TACA to launch Bogota-San Salvador service

Washington DC
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Avianca-TACA is planning to launch in July a service connecting the new airline group's two main hubs.

While the two airlines formally merged earlier this year there are no non-stop connections between Avianca's main hub in Bogota and TACA's main hub in San Salvador.

Avianca-TACA chief Fabio Villegas says passengers travelling between the two hubs now need to fly via San Jose in Costa Rica but this will change in July when one daily non-stop flight will be launched between Bogota and San Salvador.

"In a very short time we'll be flying Bogota to El Salvador," Villegas tells ATI. Under the current plan the flights will be operated with TACA Airbus A319s. "That's the idea but it could change," he says.

Villegas says a non-stop flight between Bogota and San Salvador is an important step for Avianca and TACA as they look to exploit network synergies. He points out the new flight will be timed to allow Avianca passengers to connect to flights to destinations in North America that are served by TACA but not Avianca, including Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Toronto.

Bogota-El Salvador will probably be just one of several new routes made viable by the merger. TACA earlier this year launched services between Panama City and Medellin. Villegas says Avianca-TACA is looking at several other potential new routes, including routes from Central America to Europe, as part of a new joint network plan the carriers are preparing. This plan is expected to be completed in July or August.

Villegas says Avianca-TACA also has teams tasked with drafting a joint fleet plan, examining potential synergies in IT and exploring opportunities in revenue management. He says the merger is "more revenue oriented rather than cost reduction oriented" and Avianca-TACA expects the tie-up to generate synergies that could be worth the equivalent of about 6% in additional revenues.

While all the carriers in the group continue to operate independently Villegas says "the most important strategic decisions" are being made at group level.

Villegas is still based in Bogota and is still also serving as CEO of Avianca. But he says he is now spending a significant mount of time in San Salvador, where the group chairman and COO are based.