GECAS will repossess eight aircraft leased to financially troubled Avianca Brazil, as the fleet-depleted airline cancels hundreds of flights during this week's Easter travel season.

The lessor will repossess the aircraft beginning 22 April, immediately after the Easter holiday to minimise further travel disruptions for passengers, says Brazil's aviation regulator ANAC.

With the GECAS repossession imminent, Avianca Brazil's in-service fleet is slated to shrink to around 22 aircraft next week – or less than half of the 50-over aircraft it operated late last year.

The airline has already cancelled more than 300 flights in Brazil from 17 April to 22 April, blaming the fleet reduction. The cancellations – to hit during the busy Easter travel peak – are likely to cause widespread disruption.

The aircraft repossession by GECAS comes on the heels of Aircastle's recovery of 10 A320s leased to Avianca Brazil, following a move by ANAC to de-register the aircraft.

GECAS leases nine Airbus A320 family aircraft to Avianca Brazil, including eight A320neos and one A320ceo, Cirium's Fleets Analyzer shows. The A320neos range from one to two years old, while the A320ceo is a five-year-old aircraft.

The lessor did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The eight A320neos are scheduled to be transferred to Azul, which unveiled a nonbinding agreement with Avianca Brazil last month to take over part of the troubled airline's fleet and slots. Its plan, however, was challenged earlier this month by an alternative proposal led by Avianca Brazil lead creditor Elliott Management which proposed carving up the airline's assets, with minimum bids guaranteed by Gol and LATAM Brazil Airlines exceeding that offered by Azul initially. The leased aircraft are not included in the Elliott proposal.

Both Gol and LATAM are also providing working capital loans to Avianca Brazil, which filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2018, to sustain ongoing operations.

Source: Cirium Dashboard