Posada pilots Summa

Juan Emilio Posada is moving ahead with the integration of Colombia's two major airlines, Aces and Avianca, under the common name of Alianza Summa.

It could be two years before Summa fully replaces the Aces and Avianca brands, and during this transition both airlines are keeping their own presidents. But Posada, who is Aces chief executive and president, also heads Summa's commission to oversee the merger.

Despite the interim nature of his job, Posada has moved quickly since shareholders in February set the values of their companies for merger purposes. One of his first moves has been to cut the combined number of vice-presidents from 22 to seven.

To quell grumbling that Posada favoured his own managers over Avianca's, a spokesman explained: "There has been no bias towards ACES. It is just the result of a best practice analysis carried out by an independent consultant." Summa's new team consists of Rodrigo Toro, marketing and sales; Santiago Diago, flight operations; Nelson Gnecco, finance and corporate support; Miguel Montoya, engineering; Francisco Méndez, business development; Eduardo Lombana, route administration; and Angela María Sierra, services and human resources.

Route rationalisation now preoccupies the group. Domestic changes require approval from Colombia's civil aviation authority AeroCivil. Similar requests are pending with the US Department of Transportation. Aces is dropping some routes in favour of Avianca and vice versa. By late May this process was far enough along for the carriers to release an integrated schedule that marked their launch of joint operations.

Integrating IT systems is the next big hurdle. Summa's new team is also evaluating US airlines to choose an alliance partner. Earlier, Avianca had decided to partner with American Airlines, and Aces with Continental Airlines and, then, Delta Air Lines. But the selection process is restarting from scratch.

David Knibb Seattle

Source: Airline Business