Yesterday, Colombian airline Avianca Holdings (OTCMKTS: AVHOQ, BVC:PFAVH) announced that CEO Anko Van Der Werff, will leave his post as CEO of the airline after less than two years to lead Scandinavian carrier SAS in Europe. The Colombian airline immediately announced the promotion of Executive Vice President and former CFO Adrian Neuhauser (above) to the CEO role. Neuhauser joined Avianca in 2019 in the aftermath of a bitter battle for control of the airline. The next year, after the airline had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, Neuhauser was promoted to the position of Executive Vice President.
Before joining Avianca, Neuhauser was managing director covering Latin American airlines for Credit Suisse and worked as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, and Merril Lynch. Avianca remains in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it negotiates with creditors hoping to emerge with almost $2 billion USD in new financing.
“Adrian has intimate knowledge of Avianca, a proven track record in overseeing the company’s corporate restructuring and more than two decades of experience in the finance industry and working with transportation companies – all of which make him uniquely qualified to lead Avianca at this critical time said Avianca’s Chairman Roberto Kriete. “On behalf of the Board and major stakeholders, we are confident in Avianca’s path forward with Adrian at the helm, and we look forward to seeing the company reach new levels of success under his leadership.”
Former CEO Anko Van Der Werff will remain connected to Avianca for the time being, as an adviser and as a member of the board of directors. “It has been a great privilege to lead Avianca over the past two years. With global air travel resuming as COVID vaccines are rolled out and significant progress having been made in our corporate restructuring, we are at logical juncture to transition to a new leader who will guide Avianca into its next chapter. I am truly grateful for how everyone at Avianca came together as one team to navigate the effects of the global pandemic, which was the most difficult time in our industry’s history,” said Van Der Werff.
“I am proud of the long-term labor agreements and strengthened relationships with our pilots and other employee groups as well as the work completed to ensure Avianca has the right aircraft fleet to meet the future needs of the business. I will miss working alongside our team every day, but I have made a personal decision to return with my family to Europe. Adrian has made a tremendous impact since joining Avianca and his insights and experience will be instrumental in taking the company forward. I look forward to continuing to support Avianca as a member of the Board,” added Van Der Werff.