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Avianca names Van der Werff as new CEO

Avianca has appointed former Aeromexico executive Anko van der Werff as its new chief executive, effective 15 July.

Van der Werff was most recently chief revenue officer at Aeromexico, which he left earlier this month. He previously worked at Qatar Airways and Air France-KLM, and has more than 19 years of experience in the airline industry.

"Anko will join our team to help us lead these challenging times in the industry. His ample experience in world-class airlines will not only help us continue with our transformation, but will also help us strengthen the loyalty of our customers, rekindling the commitment of our employees and reinforce our company’s competitiveness and financial situation," says Avianca chairman Roberto Kriete.

Van der Werff will take over the helm of Avianca at a difficult time. The Star Alliance carrier was downgraded in recent months by ratings agencies concerned over its financial leverage and liquidity. The airline ended the first quarter with a net loss of $67.9 million.

The financial troubles of Avianca's majority shareholder German Efromovich have played a lead role in the airline's predicament. Efromovich's wholly-owned Avianca Argentina and Avianca Brazil, which are managed separately from Colombia's Avianca, ceased operations in the past month.

In May, Efromovich was ousted from his chairman role at Avianca and replaced with Kriete. Former Avianca chief executive Hernan Rincon left the airline in April, just as the carrier was launching a transformation plan to improve profitability while slowing growth.

Since Rincon's departure, Avianca general counsel Renato Covelo has led the carrier on an interim basis. He will return to his position with Van der Werff's appointment.

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