Viva CEO: More Latin American Airline Mergers On Horizon

Viva will be a part of the Abra group, the new pan-Latin American airline company in the process of being created.

Credit: Viva Air

Colombian ULCC Viva CEO Felix Antelo believes more airline merger activity could emerge in Latin America once the formation of the Abra Group is finalized. 

Abra is the pan-Latin American airline company being created by Colombian flag carrier Avianca and Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aereas. Viva will be a part of Abra–in late April, Avianca announced plans to acquire rival Viva

The airlines comprising Abra will maintain their own separate brands and operating segments, “and if we do this right . . . the opportunity that we see is massive,” Antelo said May 26 during the CAPA Americas Aviation & LCCs Summit in Puerto Rico. 

Antelo noted that Latin America’s residents average 0.5 air travel trips per person annually compared with two to three airline trips per year per person in Australia, Europe and the US. “There’s a long way to go” before full Latin American air travel demand is captured, he said. 

Viva’s CEO said that, moving forward, three to four large airline groups will emerge in Latin America, which will result in a more profitable and sustainable industry. 

Comparing the Latin American region to the US and Europe, Antelo said the region has “too many [airline] companies for the size of the market,” and predicted further consolidation “down the road.” 

The timing of that consolidation is difficult to determine, Antelo said. He noted it will take about a year for Abra’s antitrust approval process to be completed.