JetSmart abandons purchase of Ultra Air, Avianca rethinks merger with Viva Air

After fierce competition, airline acquisitions in Colombia are headed for failure

Considered one of the most effervescent commercial aviation markets in South America, Colombia made headlines due to the tortuous merger attempt between Avianca and the small low cost Viva Air.

Following the approval of Aerocivil, the country’s civil aviation authority, the union between the two airlines runs the risk of failing. In a statement, Avianca said that “it will study the resolution and the implications of the measures adopted by the authority as soon as possible” to determine whether it is still feasible to acquire Viva Air.

The Colombian main carrier, however, has already said that Viva no longer has the same capabilities it had before the suspension of its flights at the end of February, citing the route network, aircraft fleet and workforce.

Avianca also pointed out that the government has allowed other interested parties, such as LATAM and JetSmart, to appeal the decision and if that happens, it will have to wait for this step to be completed before taking any action.

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Viva Air A320neo (Viva)

JetSmart drops Ultra Air

In another chapter of the storm that collapses on air travel in Colombia, the Chilean ultra low cost JetSmart said it had given up on acquiring Ultra Air after announcing a letter of intent last week.

“We continued the process and considered that, due to several factors, it is not possible to continue with the intention to buy Ultra Air and we canceled the letter of understanding and closed the case”, said the president of JetSmart, Estuardo Ortiz.

Ultra Air is a new low-cost airline, which debuted in 2020. The carrier operates six Airbus A320s on flights from Bogotá and Medellín.

The local press pointed to the devolution of slots at El Dorado Airport, the busiest in the country, as one of the reasons for the change in strategy by JetSmart, which also obtained authorization to open a branch in Colombia.


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