Despite the fact that competing airlines announced that they helped to reaccommodate passengers on their flights, It is not yet known what will happen to more than a million people which according to the Ministry of Transportation have tickets purchased by Viva.

This, after the aerial aerial suddenly suspend its operations last Monday night.

Also read: «They have until Friday so that Viva Air does not disappear»: Mintransporte)

This doesn’t take time. Tomorrow (today) we hope to give final decisions to Colombians, and to Viva users we ask for a little patience

Given the situation, Minister Guillermo Reyes met yesterday with the Civil Aeronautics and different airlines to seek solutions, and upon leaving, in a statement to the media, asked users for patience for being «a measure that arrived unnoticed».

In addition, he announced that President Gustavo Petro called a meeting today, at 9 in the morning, to seek solutions to save the rights of passengers.

«This does not give time. Tomorrow (today) we hope to give final decisions to the Colombians, and Viva users we ask for a little patience«, said.

It should be noted that some people complained that Viva managed to receive money and luggage at the terminals moments before announcing its decision.

The determination of the airline can lead to sanctions, as the Superintendency of Transportation hinted at. «Given the breach of the rights of users by the Viva airline, the Supertransporte will advance the pertinent investigations«, informed through a statement.

In addition, the Civil Aeronautics (Aerocivil), for its part, requested respect for the right of passengers who have national and international tickets purchased with the airline and now suffer the consequences of cancellations, and will warn that, with Supertransporte, it will ensure respect for the rights of those affected.

In turn, the authorities in Peru announced the initiation of an administrative process for non-compliance with the coverage service of their routes.

(Read also: Viva Air: how to file a claim for alleged violation of rights?)

Viva Air travelers in Rionegro.

Photo:

Jaiver Nieto Alvarez/ETCE

What happened to the airline?

Viva suspended its operations after the Civil Aeronautics achieved the participation of five airlines as interested third parties in the integration application process with Avianca. This, Viva said, would mean «new delays in making a decision.»

It is worth noting that the company had been indicating for seven months that his financial situation was critical and had requested a rescue before the Civil Aeronautics to allow it to be part of a group of stronger airlines.

The company’s crisis is delicate, mainly due to the price of fuel, which almost doubled to $3.5 a gallon in 2022. Added to this is double-digit inflation and the rising dollar.

Although the airline is coming from a difficult time, the aeronautical regulations establish the conditions for the suspension of operations

According to the financial statements of air transport companies, as of June 30, 2022, the net losses in the year were the second highest (172,240 million pesos), only surpassed by those of Avianca, which totaled 1.1 trillion pesos. pesos

«We have had a 25 percent devaluation, and in the case of Viva, 75 percent of what we sell is in Colombian pesos and about 70 percent of the costs are in dollars. There is a very complex currency mismatch, with a very large devaluation,» said Félix Antelo, who until a few days ago was the president of the airline.

«Although the airline comes from a difficult moment, the aeronautical regulations establish the conditions for the suspension of operations. Now the aeronautics have the right to listen to third parties interested in the integration process with Avianca,» explained Claudia Velásquez, aeronautical expert.

With the integration, Avianca’s parent company could provide financial support, as well as consolidate political and control rights, to invest in it and solve this difficult situation. However, Aerocivil rejected the transaction in November, resulting in the loss of two aircraft from Viva’s fleet.

The final decision of the Aerocivil would be known in mid-March, after the first ruling that increased that the integration was not viable due to the risks it represents for competition was annulled on January 18, due to «a substantial irregularity» in the process.

In this regard, Minister Reyes assured yesterday that he has asked the air authority for a prompt decision regarding the integration, since «not taking them can generate more dire consequences.»

Last year, Viva transported 8.1 million passengers in Colombia and its connections (Latam mobilized 9.2 million and Avianca 24.6 million in 2022). And in terms of participation, Avianca covers 36.6 percent in the Colombian market, while Viva has 20.4 percent.

Avianca said that if it integrates with Viva, it would be willing to propose alternatives such as, for example, giving up operating any of the three routes in which it would have a 100 percent share.

(Also read: The president of Viva Air speaks: «We are not singing to the Government»)

«Aerocivil is responsible for the closure»

Francisco Lalinde, president of Viva, talks about the crisis. Images of passengers affected by the airline.

Photo:

Long live Jaiver Nieto. TIME

Francisco Lalinde, president of Viva Air, referred to the suspension of operations of the airline. In the Ask Yamid program, he hoped that after seven months of waiting, Civil Aeronautics has not been able to respond to the crisis that the possible integration with Avianca is already being presented. «Foreign companies are given priority,» he said.

He assured that in the next two months he did not see a favorable outlook for the company, a reason that forced them to make the decision to close operations.
He also said that they spoke with high-level people in the government. «We told them that they used until 5 pm on Monday for Aerocivil to demonstrate and say what the future of operations was,» he said, adding that there was no statement in which they felt supported. «Do not use support to continue operating»emphasized.

According to Lalinde, the air authority has not wanted to communicate with Viva. «Every month and a half we have delivered to Aerocivil how the flow of the company It has been deteriorating and we have not had an answer«He commented. In fact, he blamed that entity for the closure of the company.

Chaos and uncertainty reigned among the travelers

In several cities, those affected by the closure of operations of the Viva Air company have gone from anger to sadness; there have been confrontations and even tears of impotence with the intervention of the authorities.

Since the early hours of yesterday, the authorities had to intervene at the Ernesto Cortissoz airport in Barranquilla, as several citizens clashed when the group of people affected by the flight cancellation wanted to prevent other users from accessing their planes.

In the afternoon, the situation was controlled, but the authorities had to keep a close watch to prevent new excesses against airline employees.
At the Rafael Núñez airport, in Cartagena, 1,446 people with flights to Bogotá, Medellín and Cali were affected.

Among the passengers were executives, students and entire families who had traveled to Cartagena to spend a weekend off, but with the urgency of returning on Tuesday to resume activities. Among them, foreigners who went for international connections.

(Read also: Ministry of Transport of Peru announces administrative process against Viva Air)

According to the Sociedad Aeroportuaria de la Costa (Sacsa), responsible for the administration of the Cartagena air terminal, a Viva flight bound for Mexico City managed to take off during the early hours of the morning; if not, the chaos with more international travelers would have been worse.

Around 9:30 in the morning the situation became complicated and there were scenes of violence and the presence of Esmad was necessary inside the air terminal.

Meanwhile, airline employees also protested, such as at the José María Córdova airport, in Rionegro, where some 4,500 people were affected by the cancellations. There, a group of about 40 people intermittently blocked the entrance with banners and harangues against Aerocivil, which they blame for the situation the company is going through.

Similarly, in Cali there were crosses between travelers that from 8 in the morning they made human chains to prevent other passengers from entering and thus clamor for a solution. Authorities had to intervene to prevent attacks among the same affected.

Drivers help stranded passengers

Tradicionales came out to facilitate the trips of the hundreds of Viva passengers who ended up stranded in airports in the country and abroad. Meanwhile, Viva Air told its affected users that They would be attentive to the news that they would be announcing on their website.

The Civil Aeronautics said that passengers with reservations or tickets issued for February 28 and March 1, Satena offers alternatives in shared routesaccording to availability of seats, without additional cost.

The airline will also make available reduced fares for affected travelers and the mechanism to access these fares can be found on the airline’s website.

Photo:

Jaiver Nieto Alvarez/ETCE

Latam Airlines announced that it will also rearrange passengers in the available seats of its flights for passengers with a flight date until tomorrow, Thursday, March 2, at no cost to Viva or to the passengers. He also said that he would continue to evaluate the situation to define an extension for flights after that date.

For its part, Wingo announced that it maintains the endorsement agreement with Viva Air for flights from Bogotá to Medellín, Cali, Santa Marta, Cartagena and Lima. The measure also applies to Wingo routes from Medellín to Bogotá, Punta Cana and Cancún, and will be in force until March 15.

(Also read: Did you have a flight abroad with Viva? These are the options of other airlines)

According to the airline, interested travelers will need to have a flight scheduled and documented with Viva, and each passenger will need to apply for the endorsement directly to facilitate their relocation at no cost, subject to availability.
As the situation progresses, Wingo will review the need to extend this measure.

The airline will also make available reduced fares for affected travelers and the mechanism to access these fares can be found on the airline’s website.

In turn, Avianca reported that in order to save the flight planes of Viva customers, it launched a comprehensive plan that includes additional capacity and temporary closure of sales where it is required to rearrange Viva passengers.

Since yesterday, it has announced incremental flights on the routes that connect Bogotá with Medellín, San Andrés and Buenos Aires, with an offer of 4,000 more seats in these operations.