Venezuela's new secretary of transport, Julio Marti, has reversed his predecessor's course and redistributed the routes of bankrupt Viasa to three airlines. Aeropostal is the big winner, gaining rights on three continents.

Aeropostal has been awarded Canada, Chile, Cuba, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Switzerland. Aserca has won Brazil and Argentina while Avensa picked up the routes to Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

Former transport secretary, Moises Orozco, had insisted that Viasa's routes remain in its bankruptcy estate so that the government could sell them with the defunct airline's other assets. Brazil's Vasp and a specially formed Venezuelan company had bid for Viasa's routes and assets and planned to revive the former flag carrier. At the urging of Venezuela's other airlines, however, a court enjoined that sale pending a decision on their claim that the transport ministry was required to reallocate Viasa's routes. Secretary Marti's decision ends both the litigation and probably further interest in buying Viasa out of bankruptcy.

The award of Italy, Portugal, and Spain to Avensa closes the book on another dispute. Venezuela's supreme court ruled in June that Avensa still owned route rights to those countries awarded 11 years ago but unused for most of that time. The court rejected a claim by Orozco that Avensa had forfeited those rights through their non-use.

However, after the court's ruling, the transport ministry delayed notifying its counterparts in Rome, Madrid, and Lisbon that Avensa was designated to fly those routes. The allocation of Viasa's routes to those destinations duplicates Avensa's old authorities, giving the carrier little reason to complain.

Source: Airline Business