After Cutting Benefits For Frequent Fliers, Avianca Introduces Fares With No Checked Baggage Or Seat Selection
Anko Van Der Werff, Avianca’s new CEO installed in 2019 seems to be busy remaking the airline after cutting premium benefits and treatment that passengers had been accustomed to, apparently to compete with Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) operating in Colombia such as Viva Air, Wingo, Spirit, and JetBlue. After unannounced benefit cuts for its Lifemiles Silver members, it now is introducing “XS” fares to international flights that come with no checked luggage benefits or seat selection.
This latest move by Avianca begs the question: If Avianca is stripping down service to match LCCs, what reason remains to fly Avianca?
The move will allow Avianca to advertise fares with stripped down options so that it may look like a low-cost carrier in booking engines and comparison sites. The embattled airline, struggling with debt and operational issues, is seeing its markets eroded by domestic challengers such as Viva Air, and the rapid entry of international carriers into Colombia. All while a dismal on-time record causes angry passengers and government investigations.
XS fares became available on domestic flights in Ecuador from September 24, 2019, in Colombia from November 6th, and now will start on international flights to North America beginning March 4. On Colombian domestic flights, the XS fare has no changes, refunds, miles, frequent flyer upgrades, or segments counting towards status. Passengers can take one 10kg carry on item and one “personal item.” Seat selection has an extra cost that begins from $32,990 COP, and seats with additional legroom will cost at least $59,990 COP extra.