Avianca's board expects to vote as early as next month on a proposed partnership with United Airlines, says Avianca majority owner German Efromovich.

"It's going on the fast track," Efromovich tells FlightGlobal on the sidelines of the IATA annual general meeting in Cancun. "It will be pretty soon, it could be as soon as next month."

Efromovich declines to comment further on what the strategic alliance with United will look like, but says the Chicago-based airline will not end up holding a share in Avianca.

Avianca's planned partnership with United has led to a lawsuit against the Colombian airline by its largest minority shareholder Kingsland Holdings. Kingsland says that Efromovich used his dominance on Avianca's board to force the airline to choose United, despite better offers from two other carriers. Court documents have identified the other two airlines as Delta Air Lines and Copa Airlines. Avianca has since countersued Kingsland.

Efromovich says his Synergy Aerospace will buy out Kingsland's shares in Avianca, if Kingsland chooses to disapprove the proposed deal with United. An agreement that governs Synergy and Kingsland's rights in Avianca gives Synergy the buy-out right, but not Kingsland.

"We are prepared to buy him out," says Efromovich, referring to Kingsland owner Roberto Kriete. The latter was chief executive of Taca, which merged with Efromovich's Avianca in 2010.

A Kingsland spokesperson says any agreement with United will be subject to scrutiny in court. "Efromovich's supposed offer to buy out Kingsland is a not-so-veiled threat meant to quash any dissenting voice on the Avianca board that opposes his efforts to line his pockets at the expense of all other Avianca shareholders," she adds.

Kingsland sources close to the situation have said that Synergy chose United over Delta and Copa, because the other two airlines' proposals called for Synergy to give up control of Avianca.

Efromovich reiterates that United presented the "best offer" for Avianca: "I'm not prepared to sell the company. No one can oblige me to do it."

Story updated with Kingsland statement

Source: Cirium Dashboard