Avianca Plots International Growth From Secondary Airports In Colombia

The carrier will begin international flights from Bucaramanga, Pereira and Santa Marta, as well as expanding its overseas network from Cartagena.

Credit: Joe Pries

Avianca is expanding point-to-point connectivity from regional airports in Colombia with the launch of six nonstop international routes, as well as adding two domestic services.

The network additions will see the Star Alliance member offer new flight options from Bucaramanga (BGA), Cartagena (CTG), Pereira (PEI) and Santa Marta (SMR) to destinations in Brazil, Chile and the US. Four of the six international routes will begin in December, with the remaining two starting the following month. All six will use Airbus A320-family aircraft.

The latest growth comes as the carrier seeks to push through its planned merger with Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aereas and Colombian LCC Viva to form the holding company Abra Group, creating one of the largest airline networks in Latin America. Abra will also have a 10% stake in Chile's Sky Airline.

From Pereira, the capital of Colombia’s Risaralda department located in the foothills of the Andes, two overseas routes are being opened to Miami (MIA) and New York John F Kennedy (JFK). Both services will start on Dec. 8, operating 4X-weekly to Miami and 2X-weekly to New York.

On the same day, Bucaramanga in the Santander department will receive a new route to Miami, operating three times per week. Santa Marta, a city on the Caribbean Sea in the northern department of Magdalena, will also be connected twice a week to Miami from Dec. 10.

The remaining two new international routes will begin in January 2023, linking Cartagena with GOL’s Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) hub from Jan. 10 and Santiago de Chile (SCL) the following day. Flights to Sao Paulo will operate three times per week, while Santiago will be 4X-weekly.

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According to the latest data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, Avianca will face direct competition on just one of the six new international routes, with American Airlines providing a daily Pereira-Miami service. Spirit Airlines will also offer indirect competition in the Bucaramanga-Miami market as it flies Bucaramanga-Fort Lauderdale (FLL) three times per week.

The new routes from Bucaramanga, Pereira and Santa Marta will become Avianca’s sole international flights from the respective destinations as the carrier further builds up its network outside of Bogota (BOG).

At Cartagena, the additions of Sao Paulo and Santiago will increase the number of international points offered by Avianca from the airport to five. It currently flies to San Jose Juan Santamaria (SJO) in Costa Rica, while service to Miami and New York JFK is scheduled to resume in December.

In addition to the international expansion, the carrier has confirmed the launch of two new domestic routes. A 4X-weekly service between Pereira and Viva’s Medellin (MDE) hub will open on Dec. 8, and a 2X-weekly route connecting Cali (CLO) and Riohacha (RCH) is expected to start on Nov. 1.

Earlier this month, Avianca and Boliviana de Aviación (BOA) signed an interline agreement enabling passengers to connect to the other’s network. The airlines said in a joint statement that passengers now have access to seven Bolivian cities served by BOA and 68 destinations served by Avianca across 24 countries via 3,800 weekly flights.