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Avianca Brazil cancels some flights despite securing fleet

Financially troubled Avianca Brazil has cancelled about 3% of its daily operations today, even as the airline says it has secured the release of its fleet to ensure that operations continue following yesterday's bankruptcy protection filing.

The Sao Paulo-based carrier says that operations will not be affected and will continue to serve all destinations. However, FlightAware data shows that the airline has cancelled about 10 flights, or about 3% of its daily operations today.

An Avianca Brazil spokesperson tells FlightGlobal that the cancellations were not due to the airline's ongoing discussions with lessors. She was not able to comment on whether the airline is in possession of all its aircraft.

Following its filing for bankruptcy protection yesterday, the airline said: "As the first court decision, the company’s claims were secured, such as the release of its fleet to meet all scheduled flights, at the airports where it operates."

The cancelled flights today are all domestic service to key Brazilian airports including Brasilia, Sao Paulo Congonhas, Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Rio de Janeiro Galeao.

Avianca Brazil said yesterday that it filed for bankruptcy protection "due to the resistance of its aircraft lessors to reach an amicable agreement".

On 10 December, Aircastle said it was in the process of repossessing 11 aircraft - one Airbus A330-200 and 10 A320s - from Avianca Brazil. BOC Aviation was also reported to be in the midst of legal action to retrieve two A320neos leased to the carrier.

Avianca Brazil previously sought to downplay the tensions with lessors, saying it had already planned to reduce its fleet since August. The airline has an in-service fleet of 56 aircraft, comprising 50 A320 family jets and six A330s., Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

The airline reported a net loss of R176 million ($45.8 million) in the first six months of 2018, according to financial data filed with Brazil's civil aviation authority ANAC. In the second quarter alone, it reported a net loss of R141 million.

In 2017, the airline reported a net profit of R41.6 million. It posted a net loss of R71.4 million in 2016, according to financial documents filed with ANAC.

ANAC says it is monitoring the situation around Avianca Brazil, adding that it was not notified about the airline filing for bankruptcy protection. It has requested clarification from the carrier, says the regulator.

Avianca Brazil is wholly-owned by Synergy Group, the majority shareholder of Avianca Holdings which is the parent of Bogota-based Avianca. While the two airlines share a common brand name and ownership, they operate separately with Avianca licensing its brand to Avianca Brazil. Avianca Brazil chairman Jose Efromovich is the brother of German Efromovich, the chairman of Avianca.

The stock price of publicly-listed Avianca took a hit yesterday following reports of the troubles surrounding Avianca Brazil, falling almost 14% in mid-day trading although it largely recovered later in the day.

Bogota-based Avianca issued a statement yesterday reiterating that Avianca Brazil, whose registered business name is Oceanair, is not part of the Avianca Holdings group of companies.

Story updated with Avianca Brazil statement

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