AviancaTaca dismantles Costa Rica hub

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Bogota-based Star Alliance carrier Avianca has confirmed the elimination of five medium-haul international routes from San Jose in Costa Rica.

The withdrawal of the flights is part of the airline's dismantling of its former hub structure as part of a network reshuffle resulting from Avianca's merger with Taca.

Avianca will cancel all nonstop flights between San Jose and New York, Los Angeles, Quito and Guayaquil, after also dropping Havana from its network recently.

The move is not surprising as the original four-hub structure resulting from the merger of Bogota-based Avianca and San Salvador-based Taca seemed excessive for a mid-sized carrier like AviancaTaca. The merged airline will now instead reinforce its operations in San Salvador, where the international airport will undergo significant renovation and expansion work starting in 2014. Along with Bogota and Lima, AviancaTaca will consolidate operations in three hubs.

Although Taca considered for some time San Jose the "natural" hub of Central America, Avianca has decided to concentrate its international connectivity at San Salvador.

San Salvador has the advantage of helping AviancaTaca differentiate itself from its main competitor in the region, Panama's Copa Airlines, which is based closer to San Jose than San Salvador. It also gives Avianca's network a better geographical balance as the San Salvador hub is located further from Bogota and Lima than San Jose is.

The airline will still retain some flights at San Jose to its Lima, Bogota and San Salvador hubs, as well as certain nonstop flights within Central America, and to Caracas, Mexico City and Miami.