Avianca turns 100: A century in the skies for Colombia’s national carrier

By Sophie Foggin January 4, 2019
Avianca 100 year anniversary
Boeing 747: one of Avianca’s flagship aeroplanes.
Image courtesy of Avianca.

2019 marks a very special occasion for Avianca, whose famous red and white planes have now been in the skies across the world for 100 years.

The Colombian airline was founded on December 5, 1919, in the coastal city of Barranquilla and has represented the country as its national airline ever since. Its headquarters can be found in the capital city of Bogotá.

Originally registered under the name SCADTA, Avianca is officially the world’s second-oldest airline and currently covers 110 destinations across 27 countries; the most extensive network in Latin America. Its fleet of 190 aircrafts currently carries out 750 flights across the world per day.

Avianca 100 year anniversary.
Boeing 727: one of Avianca’s flagship aeroplanes.
Image courtesy of Avianca.

“Avianca is an airline of 100 years, but with the youthfulness of a millennial,” the company’s media representatives told The Bogotá Post. Working towards the mission of being a “digital company that flies planes,” it has pioneered a series of tech advances over the years.

“Our pilots now have access to tablets in the cockpits, we are slowly incorporating Wifi on board our aeroplanes… there’s our virtual assistant Carla (who, at the time of development, was the first virtual assistant across all Latin American airlines), our luggage recognition system, on-board entertainment app for the A318 fleet and other tech tools for teamwork among our employees,” said Avianca representatives.  

Image courtesy of Avianca.

At a Star Alliance meeting that took place in December of last year, the company’s CEO Hernán Rincón outlined predictions that passenger numbers in Latin America are expected to double over the course of the next decade and emphasised the importance of the role Avianca will play within this.

Whilst Rincón stressed the need for Latin American governments to invest in infrastructure strong enough to keep up with the growing demand in air travel, Avianca also emphasised the importance of securing the sustainability of the company so that it is able to confront these upcoming challenges.

Avianca’s most modern plane: Boeing 787.
Image courtesy of Avianca.

Recent years have not all been plain sailing for the company, however, as it has begun to experience increasing levels of debt. Last December saw Avianca Brazil file for bankruptcy after repeated losses and airplane repossession lawsuits, reported news agency Reuters.

Nevertheless, 100 years of service to its passengers calls for celebration, and this is precisely what the airline plans intends to offer its customers over the upcoming year.

“The company will celebrate its first century of existence with a series of activities and campaigns that will take place over the course of the year, directed at their customers, employees and other groups of interest,” according to media representatives.

The airline also shared a preview of its plans to develop a special 100-year brand name graphic where the two zeros will simulate aeroplane turbines in order to celebrate “10 decades of flight, evolution and movement.”

Engineers repairing an Avianca aeroplane in the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul centre located in Rionegro, Antioquia.
Image courtesy of Avianca.

2019 will also see Avianca begin to look beyond the borders of South America, as upcoming ventures include reports of a possible alliance with German airline Lufthansa as part of larger-scale expansion to Europe.

This year, however, alongside the continued incorporation of Wifi on board its planes, Avianca plans to carry on developing projects and strategic alliances to strengthen its position in the market. The airline will also focus on improving client interaction through its website, constantly aiming to personalise the customer experience, whilst at the same time continuing to offer a “world-class service” for its passengers.