Colombian budget airline Viva is set to join forces with the country’s flag carrier Avianca in an effort to support the country’s airline industry that has been battered by the pandemic. 

A merger is expected to increase financial stability for both the businesses, in turn speeding up their growth and innovation plans.

The two airlines will be consolidated under the same holding company, while retaining their individual strategies as well as brands.

As part of the deal, Viva founding partner Declan Ryan will get a seat on Avianca’s board of directors.

Ryan stated: “If the authorities approve the management of both groups under the same holding company, it will encourage the growth of the air transport market, promoting low rates for users and good service with the best punctuality, allowing everyone to fly with a world of destinations.

“This transaction and a potential future combination will create high-skilled jobs for our employees and our suppliers.”

The merger currently awaits regulatory clearance.

Avianca main shareholder and chairman of the Board of Directors Roberto Kriete said: “This new and robust group of airlines will benefit customers by using a more efficient cost structure to offer lower fares, a route network that delivers direct connections between destinations, a strong loyalty programme, and friendly and efficient service.”

Last year, Avianca emerged from Chapter 11 as a more financially sound carrier through a restructuring process.

The carrier, which has a workforce of around 12,000, runs 110 aircraft. Viva is a much smaller airline company in contrast, with a staff headcount of nearly 1,200 and 22 aircraft.