Colombian airline Viva Air suspends flights with immediate effect

One of Viva Air’s yellow A320 Airbus planes at the El Dorado airport of Bogotá. Photo: ABC Online Media

MEDELLÍN – The Colombian Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) Fast Air Colombia, operating under the trade name Viva Air, suspended all its flights with immediate effect on Monday.

The drastic measure comes after the low-cost carrier attempted to broker a merger with larger industry peer and former competitor Avianca.

For a number of years, Viva Air, which has made a strong contribution to cheaper tickets in Colombia since its foundation, was doing well. Before the Corona crisis, the company expanded strongly. For example, it decided to purchase no fewer than fifty new Airbus A320 aircraft.

The Corona crisis, but also the rapid devaluation of the Colombian Peso against the US dollar and the relatively sharp rise in fuel costs, put Viva Air in a critical situation within a few months. As early as August 2022, Viva Air requested to be taken over by Avianca. However, Colombia’s aviation authority, Aeronáutica Civil, is taking a very long time to request approval of the merger.

After several warnings to the aviation authority and the application for suspension last week, the airline has now ’temporarily’ stopped flights. Aeronáutica Civil’s steps are now anxiously awaiting in the light of the fast escalating crisis. 

Interest in takeover

In addition to Avianca, Latam and the Chilean JetSmart have also shown interest in the acquisition of the Colombian airline, which has managed to gain about twenty percent market share in recent years.

The coming weeks will show whether Viva Air can still be saved, or whether it will disappear from the market for good.

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