Avianca-TACA forges partnership with Aerolineas

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Colombia's Avianca has forged a partnership with Aerolineas Argentinas and has released preliminary financial figures for 2010.

Avianca-TACA and Aerolineas say in a joint statement that the two companies have signed a "commercial cooperation" agreement which will allow their passengers to connect between their flights.

The statement does not specifically mention a codeshare but says executives from the airlines will now work towards establishing a plan for joint services and commercial ties.

Both Avianca and Aerolineas Argentinas currently operate between Bogota and Buenos Aires. According to Innovata, Avianca has four weekly Airbus A330 flights on the route while Aerolineas has three weekly A340 frequencies.

Avianca sister carrier TACA also operates the Lima-Buenos Aires route alongside Aerolineas Argentinas. TACA has two daily flights on the route using Airbus A320 family aircraft while Aerolineas has one daily flight using Boeing 737-700s.

Avianca and Aerolineas first unveiled plans to cooperate on the Bogota-Buenos Aires route in 2007. But Aerolineas' ability to work with other carriers has been restricted for the last several years due to its exclusion from IATA's clearinghouse. Aerolineas late last year signed an agreement to re-join the clearinghouse, allowing it to again pursue codeshares with other carriers, primarily SkyTeam members.

Aerolineas is now working towards entering SkyTeam next year while Avianca-TACA is in the process of joining Star.

Avianca, meanwhile, has reported revenues of 3.3 trillion Colombian pesos ($1.7 billion) for 2010, a 17% increase over 2009. The carrier says it turned an operating profit or EBITDA of 417 billion pesos, a 160% increase over 2009.

These results are only for Avianca and do not include other carriers in the Avianca-TACA group. The full group results are expected to be released at the end of this month. Avianca and TACA completed their merger early last year.

Avianca says it transported 11.7 million passengers last year, a 20% increase compared to 2009. This includes 8.7 million domestic passengers, representing an increase of 28% over 2009, and 2.9 international passengers, representing an increase of less than 1%.