Government Trade Regulators Ask Transportation Ministry To Investigate Avianca Due To Avalanche Of Passenger Complaints
Avianca Airlines has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy but the airline continues to be denounced by passengers and even Colombian government officials such as the country’s Vice President Martha Lucia Ramirez. Now, the Superintendent of Industry and Comerce, Andrés Barreto has sent an official letter to Wilmer Salazar, Colombia’s Superintendent of Transportation.
“As a guarantor of consumer rights, we are concerned about the constant complaints that are public knowledge about the lack of quality of the services provided by Avianca” reads the letter (translated). Barreto says that even as a passenger himself, he is upset.
“It is worth mentioning that even I, from my position as a consumer, have seen my rights affected by Avianca’s actions and have filed the relevant complaints by making this situation public,” he writes.
Avianca has been cutting service, removing its business class section on domestic flights, reducing or eliminating perks, removing its in-flight passenger electronics, and replacing its reclining seats with thinner basic seats as found on low-cost carriers. It has moved to a low-cost carrier pricing model as it seeks to compete with aggressive operators like Viva Air, and even upstarts like Ultra Air, that just started operating from Medellín with a single jet. Puerto Rico based Banco Popular announced it is ending its Avianca LifeMiles credit card.
Founded in Barranquilla, Colombia, after bankruptcy, shareholders moved the airline’s legal domicile across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, though operations are still based in Bogotá. Former CEO Anko Van Der Werff left during bankruptcy, replaced by an investment banker with no airline operational experience. So far, Avianca leadership has been unable to stem the flow of passenger complaints.