Viva Air: The Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Editors note: Rupert Stebbings previously served on the board of directors of Viva Air and wrote the book The Viva Effect.
I’ve heard a lot of magnanimous statements from people involved with Viva since the merger with Avianca formally collapsed and the airline went under on Saturday. But this is no time for “heroic defeats” — my homeland England cornered that in the sports market. This is the moment to get to the point, which few Colombians do. This is the shameful treatment of a private company.
While the world has grown accustomed to Southwest Airlines, Ryanair, and many more low-cost carriers, Colombia after a decade has shut down Viva.
It has been failed on so many levels.
- By the government of President Ivan Duque, who offered not a peso during the pandemic whilst backstopping Avianca to the tune of hundreds of millions. (There again, where did Duque’s sister work?)
- The current administration, in the guise of the rudderless Aerocivil and its hapless chief Sergio París Mendoza, have done nothing to help.
- Inept ex-head of Mintransporte Guillermo Francisco Reyes, who has now been offered the ambassadors job in Sweden? It certainly wasn’t for outstanding service.
- Or LATAM Airlines Santiago Alvarez who said “we never wanted this outcome” — cry me a river of crocodile tears, so why protest so hard?
- Avianca, did you ever really want it? Your recent stubbornness means it is being called into serious question. The public have certainly voted with their keyboards.
Most of all, those millions who now cannot afford to travel have been failed.
The needy who never could fly until Viva appeared — and now can’t. LATAM and Avianca (check their recent surge in results) have immediately raised prices to eye-watering levels amidst a 30% decline in passengers. Gouging 101.
Then there is the first airline foundacion in Colombia — where to even start with the difference they made. Other airlines flew over the problems; Fundación Viva flew to them.
Will someone fill the hole? Why would you in a country where the legacies fought so hard to block Viva entering and where the authorities did so little to help. Whilst the needy deserve it, Colombia doesn’t deserve such investment.
Researching the Viva Effect book, I really saw what went on. As a Director, I saw how hard Viva fought for its clients. As a passenger, I relished the experience. As a citizen, I am disgusted by what has now occurred.
It would be refreshing to hear a few more people be honest about the situation.
Viva R.I.P — my condolences to all of you who fought so hard for others, good luck on your onward flight.
Want to watch Rupert’s commentary on Viva?
Go to LinkedIn to view the video of his Chronicle of a Death Foretold