Brazil's civil aviation regulator is withdrawing the registrations of 10 Airbus A320 family aircraft in Avianca Brazil's fleet, dealing another blow to the financially troubled carrier.
The withdrawals from Brazil's aircraft registry will occur within five working days, after which the aircraft must be returned, says ANAC. The move is in response to a request from lessor GECAS, it adds.
A GECAS spokesperson declines to comment when contacted by FlightGlobal. Avianca Brazil did not immediately comment. ANAC warns that flights scheduled in the coming days may be affected.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that GECAS manages 11 A320 family aircraft operated by Avianca Brazil, including 10 A320neos that range from one to just under two and a half years old.
The move by ANAC to withdraw the A320s comes a day after Avianca Brazil said it will return four Airbus A330-200s and end most international service effective 31 March, as it continues to negotiate with lessors during a 15-day relief period granted by a Brazilian court.
Alberto Weisser, the airline's vice-president of commercial and marketing, says that the airline will discontinue all flights from Sao Paulo Guarulhos to New York John F Kennedy, Miami and Santiago from 31 March. He adds out that the other 28 destinations will continue to be served.
The three international routes were launched only in 2017, when Sao Paulo-based Avianca Brazil embarked on a major international expansion.
On 10 December, the airline entered judicial recovery – a process similar to US chapter 11 bankruptcy protection proceedings – after lessors Aircastle and GECAS reportedly requested to repossess up to 22 Airbus aircraft over missed lease payments.
Judge Tiago Papaterra Limongi of Sao Paulo’s first judicial recovery court has set a 14 February deadline for Avianca Brazil to present its strategic recovery plan, while extending a protected negotiation period for another 15 days.
Avianca Brazil’s Weisser says the airline will operate with 38 aircraft at 28 airports, offering 243 daily flights. The airline currently has an in-service fleet of 49 aircraft including the four A330-200s, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.
According to Avianca Brazil, its two remaining international routes to Bogota will continue to operate. It serves the Colombian capital from Fortaleza and Salvador.
The airline's scheduled flights are currently operating normally, according to real-time flight information.
In a post on LinkedIn, Avianca Brazil's chief executive Frederico Pedreira says the airline had encountered several difficulties, including the depreciation of the Brazilian real against the US dollar, higher fuel prices and a truckers strike in 2018 that impacted operations.
He adds that Avianca Brazil's situation is "one of the most difficult chapters" in the airline's history and his career.
The carrier had been the country's fastest growing airline over several years. It is now the fourth largest carrier in Brazil, after Gol, LATAM Airlines Brazil and Azul, with a market share of 14% in 2018.
Avianca Brazil is owned by Synergy, the majority shareholder of Colombia-based Avianca.
With additional reporting by Ghim-Lay Yeo