Avianca S.A. (Spanish acronym: Aerovías del Continente Americano, formerly Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia) has been the national flag air carrier of Colombia since 1919, making it the second-oldest airline in the world today, behind Netherlands-based KLM. Avianca was founded in Barranquilla but its main operation base and headquarters are in Bogotá, D.C. adjacent to El Dorado International Airport. Avianca belongs to South American conglomerate Synergy Group and the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers.

Avianca operates six subsidiary airlines: Helicol, SAM and Tampa Cargo in Colombia; OceanAir in Brazil; VIP in Ecuador; and Capital Airlines in Nigeria. It has three important business units: Avianca Cargo (include Avianca Deprisa), Avianca Services and Avianca Tours (formerly DesKubra). Avianca is also planning the establishment of a new airline in Paraguay, which presumably would be called OceanAir Paraguay. Avianca is attempting to take control of the ecuadorian airline Aerogal.

During 2008, SAM, OceanAir in Brazil, VIP, Tampa Cargo and eventually OceanAir Paraguay, will be rebranded as Avianca, consolidating one of the major airlines in the Americas.


SCADTA (1919 - 1940)

The airline traces its history back to December 5, 1919, in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. Germans Werner Kämerer, Stuart Hosie, Alberto Tietjen, and Colombians Ernesto Cortissoz (the first President of the Airline), Rafael Palacio, Cristóbal Restrepo, Jacobo Correa, and Aristides Noguera founded the Colombo-German Company called Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transporte Aéreo, or SCADTA. The company accomplished its first flight between Barranquilla and the nearby town of Puerto Colombia aboard a Junker F13 wherein 57 pieces of mail were transported; the flight was piloted by German Helmuth Von Krohn. This and another aircraft of the same type were completely mechanically constructed monoplanes, the engines of which had to be modified in order to be able to efficiently operate in the climatic conditions of the country; there were nine aircraft in the fleet with a total range of 850 km (525 Mi) and could carry up to four passengers and two crewmen. Due to the topographic characteristics of the country, and the lack of airports at the time, two floats were adapted to the Junkers aircraft in order for them to accomplish water landings in the rivers of different towns. Using these floats Helmuth Von Krohn was able to perform the first inland flight over Colombia on October 20, 1920, following the course of the Magdalena River; the flight took eight hours and had to make four emergency landings in the water.

Soon after the vision of the founding group had become a reality, German scientist and philanthropist Peter von Bauer became interested in the airline and contributed general knowledge, capital, and a tenth aircraft for the company as well as obtaining concessions from the Colombian government to operate the country's airmail transportation division using the airline. This new contract allowed SCADTA to thrive in a new frontier of aviation. By the mid 1920s, SCADTA, having overcome many obstacles, inaugurated its first international routes that initially covered destinations in Venezuela and the United States. Regretfully, in 1924, the aircraft that both Ernesto Cortissoz and Helmuth Von Krohn were piloting crashed into an area currently known as Bocas de Ceniza, in Barranquilla, causing their deaths. Despite this tragedy the airline continued to thrive under the guidance of German Peter von Braun until the early 1940s where circumstances related to the outbreak of World War II forced him to sell his shares in the airline to the U.S. owned Pan American World Airways.

National Airways of Colombia (1940 - 1994)

On June 14, 1940, in the city of Barranquilla, SCADTA, under ownership by United States businessmen merged with Colombian Air Carrier SACO (acronym of Servicio Aéreo Colombiano) forming the new Aerovías Nacionales de Colombia S.A. or Avianca. Five Colombians participated in this act (Rafael María Palacio, Jacobo A. Corea, Cristobal Restrepo, Aristides Noguera), and German citizens Alberto Teitjen, Werner Kaemerer, and Stuart Hosie, while the post of first President of Avianca was acquired by Martín del Corral. There had been decades of dedicated work and contribution to Colombia's development through actions among which the following may be highlighted:

Avianca's System (1994 - 2002)

In 1994, a strategic alliance was established to merge three of the most important enterprises of the aeronautical sector of Colombia: Avianca, the regional carrier SAM and the helicopter operator Helicol, which brought life to Avianca’s new system of operations. This system offered specialized services in Cargo (Avianca Cargo) and postal services as well as the most modern fleet in Latin America made up of: Boeing B767-200, Boeing B767-300, Boeing B757–200, McDonnell Douglas MD83, Fokker F50 and Bell Helicopters. This new system covered the following destinations:

By 1996, Avianca Postal Services evolved into Deprisa, providing express mail services through its products Deprisa and Deprisa Empresarial, Traditional Mail, Certified Mail, shipment Airport-to-Airport, and P.O. boxes.

On December 10, 1998, Avianca announced the inception of a new "connections center" in Bogotá offering around 6,000 possible weekly connecting flights and an increased number of frequencies, schedules, and destinations, taking advantage of the privileged geographical location of the country’s capital for the benefit of Colombian and international travellers between South America, Europe and North America.

In addition to its Avianca Connection, and alliance partnerships, Avianca offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following airlines:

Summa Alliance (2002 - 2004)

After a rigorous and complex process the worldwide aviation industry came through after the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in the United States, Avianca, the regional carrier SAM and its major rival ACES joined efforts to create Alianza Summa, which began merged operations on May 20, 2002. These three airlines decided to strategically merge their strengths to offer a more efficient service with concerns to quality, quantity, security, and competition in a new struggling marketplace. However, adverse circumstances within the industry and markets forced the alliance to disband, and airline shareholders decided to initiate the liquidation of Alianza Summa in November 2003, to focus in streghtening the Avianca trademark. These decisions resulted in the liquidation of ACES altogether, and the acquisition of SAM as a regional carrier under Avianca's system.

American Continent Airways (2004 - Present)

On December 10, 2004, Avianca concluded one of the most important and ambitious reorganization processes undertaken after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection by obtaining confirmation of its Reorganization Plan which was financially backed by the Brazilian consortium OceanAir/Synergy Group and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, allowing the airline to obtain funds for US$63 million dollars in the 13 months following withdrawal from C-11.

The Plan, which counted with the support of 99.8% of the voting creditors and which obtained the majority endorsement of the Creditors Committee, will enter into force once the Company emerges from bankruptcy. In accordance with United States laws, the administration has the trust obligation to consider any other investment proposal until the final term expiration stipulated. Notwithstanding, such offer, besides being better than the one that has been approved by Avianca’s domestic and international creditors and confirmed today by the Court, must be final, i.e. fully financed and backed with non-reimbursable cash deposits or equivalent mechanisms. Likewise, such proposal must be binding. As known, the only investment that complies with these requirements is that of OceanAir/Synergy Group and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, which already makes part of the Reorganization Plan already voted favorably by the creditors and confirmed by the Judge.

Synergy Group is an evidenced credit-worthy Brazilian entrepreneurial conglomerate. Its strength lies in the oil sector, building, installing, and offering maintenance to offshore oil platforms; it is currently carrying exploration work in Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia. Other businesses include the extraction of gas in the United States; naval construction, telephony infrastructure, hydroelectric power plants, communications and a hydrocarbons marine exploration company which extends throughout nine countries with more than 5,000 workers.

It also owns and operates OceanAir, which services around thirty cities in Brazil, as well as VIP, an airline in Ecuador, Taxi Aero, a charter airline in Brazil, and the recently acquired Wayra in Peru, as well as Turb Serv dedicated to the maintenance of turbines.

In 2008 OceanAir, VIP and Wayra will be rebranded as Avianca to consolidate as one airline following the ambitious expansion plans of the airline.


Former subsidiaries


Avianca's hub is Bogotá El Dorado International Airport. Its focus cities are Medellín, Cali, Cartagena and Barranquilla, as well as Miami, where Avianca has an important number of operations and passengers.

Avianca additionally applied to the Aerocivil for service to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with one daily flight, and for 7 new weekly frequencies to Mexico City, upgrading its service to the city to two daily flights. These services were granted by the Aerocivil on March 10, 2008. Avianca will also operate a daily flight to San Andres (ADZ) from Medellin and Cali. Avianca has also been granted service to Orlando, FL, USA but the airline has not yet announced a start date for the service.

Codeshare agreements

Presently, Avianca has codeshare agreements with:

Avianca VIP Lounges

Avianca has VIP lounges at the following airports:



Avianca Tours

Avianca Tours is Avianca’s commercial division specialized in the design and offer of tourist packages for destinations in Colombia and abroad.

Avianca Tours offers plans to:


The Avianca fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of 29 September 2008) :
Avianca Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers
Routes Notes
Airbus A319-112 3 (13 orders) 124 Domestic/International short-medium haul
Airbus A320-214 1 (30 orders) 150 Domestic/International short-medium haul
Airbus A330-243 1 (9 orders) 278 (18/260) International medium-long haul
Airbus A350-800 (10 orders)
(10 options)
270 International long haul Entry into service: 2015
Boeing 757-200 8 170 International medium haul
Boeing 767-200ER 5 181 International medium-long haul
Boeing 767-300ER 4 213 International medium-long haul
Boeing 787-8 (12 orders)
(8 options)
296 International long haul Entry into service: 2010
Fokker 50 8 52 Domestic short haul Exit from service: 2012, four aircraft are operated by SAM Colombia
Fokker 100 13 97 Domestic/International short haul Exit from service: 2012, operated by SAM Colombia
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 16 147 Domestic/International short-medium haul Exit from service: 2008, three aircraft are operated by SAM Colombia


Avianca Retired Fleet
Aircraft Year retired Replacement
Junkers F.13 Boeing B247
Boeing B247 Douglas DC3
Douglas DC-3 Boeing B737
Douglas DC-4 Lockheed L-749 Constellation and Lockheed L-1049-G Super Constellation
Douglas C-54 Skymaster Lockheed L-749 Constellation and Lockheed L-1049-G Super Constellation
Lockheed L-749 Constellation Boeing B707 and Boeing B720
Lockheed L-1049-G Super Constellation Boeing B707 and Boeing B720
Boeing B707 1992 Boeing B757
Boeing B737 1971
Boeing B720 1984 Boeing B757
Boeing B747 1995 Boeing B767
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Boeing B757
Boeing B727 1998 McDonnell Douglas MD-83


Date Aircraft Notes
Early 1930s Junkers F13 Avianca as SCADTA
November 1968 Boeing B737-159 -
April 1973 Boeing B727-24C -
June 1977 Boeing B747-124 Latin America Launch Customer
June 1979 Boeing B747-124 -
March 1980 Boeing B727-21 -
Mid 1980's Boeing B747-123 American Airlines colors
December 1980 Boeing B707-321C Pan Am colors
September 1988 Boeing B727-225/Adv Eastern Airlines colors
December 1989 Boeing B727-225/Adv Eastern Airlines colors
Early 1990s Boeing B757-23A -
Mid 1990's Boeing B747-128 Air Atlanta Icelandic colors
December 5, 1993 Boeing B757-236 Ambassador Airlines colors
April 1995 Boeing B727-2H3/Adv -
February 1998 Boeing B727-2H3/Adv Bancoquia Bank colors
August 16, 1998 Boeing B727-2A1/Adv ES: Tómese ya unas Aviancaciones. Usted se las merece.
EN: ''Take some Aviancations now. You deserve it.
January 1999 McDonnell Douglas MD-11ER World Airways colors
September 1999 Boeing B767-3S1/ER Grupo TACA colors
October 9 2000 Boeing B757-2Q8 1960's colors
August 15, 2002 Boeing B767-284/ER Summa Alliance colors
October 28, 2002 Boeing B757-2Q8 ES: 80 años
EN: 80 years
October 24, 2003 Boeing B757-256 AeroMar colors
November 23, 2003 Boeing B757-236 TransMeridian Airlines colors
January 12, 2005 Boeing B757-208 Icelandair colors
April 17, 2005 Boeing B767-3Y0/ER ES: 85 años
EN: 85 years
October 22, 2005 Boeing B767-2B1/ER Current livery
December 30, 2005 Boeing B757-28A North American Airlines colors
July 8, 2006 Boeing B767-283/ER ES: Colombia es pasión
EN: Colombia is passion
July 18, 2007 Boeing B757-236 Juan Valdez livery

Awards and nominations






Incidents and accidents

The airline suffered a few incidents during the 1980s and early 1990s. Many were caused by warring gangs, under the assumption that a member of a rival gang was aboard. The deadliest of those incidents was Avianca Flight 203, which was bombed in 1989 following orders from Pablo Escobar to kill a politician. In the aftermath, it was found that the politician had not boarded the plane. Only one successful bombing has occurred in the airline's history, while most other gang related incidents were related to hijackings, or shootings on board. In most hijackings, all passengers and crew members unaffiliated with the hijacker's cause were immediately released.

On April 26, 1990, M-19 presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro was gunned down during a domestic Avianca flight

Other incidents include:

Private bus services in the United States

In the United States Avianca operates a private bus service from John F. Kennedy Airport to Union City and Elizabeth in New Jersey.

Popular culture


External links

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