Colombia’s Avianca saw earnings rise in 2023 as it transported 31.9 million passengers, the most in its history, while keeping costs in check.

The Bogota-based carrier said on 22 March that revenue for 2023 rose 15%, to $4.8 billion, against the prior year, with EBITDAR also increasing 66% to 1.2 billion. During the fourth quarter, the company’s EBITDAR was $332 million, on revenue of $1.23 billion, an 11.4% increase on the same period a year earlier.

Costs rose 2.8% to $4.15 billion during the year and by 8.2% during th final quarter. 

“2023 was a historic year for us: we reached the highest numbers of passengers transported in Avianca’s history, as flying with Avianca is more accessible today due to the company’s competitive prices, which have remained stable relative to pre-pandemic levels in spite of the challenging macroeconomic environment,” says Frederico Pedreira, Avianca’s chief executive.

Avianca A320. Avianca

Source: Avianca

Avianca transported 31.9 million passengers in 2023, the most in its history

Pedreira took over the role from Adrian Neuhauser in January, who stepped down to take the chief executive job at holding group Abra.

Avianca’s capacity during the fourth quarter of 2023, as measured in available seat kilometres, rose 31% over the fourth quarter a year earlier. The airline transported 9 million passengers during the final three months of the year, almost 43% more than during the same period in 2022.

For the full year 2023 Avianca’s capacity rose 31.5% year over year. That increase was driven by the company’s strategy to fill a capacity gap that was left when two smaller Colombian low-cost carriers – Viva Air and Ultra Air – ceased operations earlier in the year. 

“Operational excellence was maintained even when Avianca grew its capacity significantly in the fourth quarter,” the company says.

Former chief executive Neuhauser told FlightGlobal in November that the carrier had emerged from its pandemic-prompted bankruptcy filing and subsequent restructuring in 2022 with the ambition of keeping fares low, while offering mainline airline perks such as a loyalty programme and a full business class on long-haul flights.

In following this strategy, Avianca aims to draw more customers to affordable air travel, and away from long, and sometimes dangerous ground-based journeys.

Avianca ended the year with an operating passenger fleet of 140 aircraft, of which 127 were Airbus A320-family aircraft, and 13 were Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

“Avianca added additional aircraft to provide greater connectivity to Colombia and its regions, Ecuador, and Central America,” the airline says. It launched 18 new routes during 2023, and now operates a total of 147 routes to 75 destinations.