[Top Story] July 14, 2023, 10:05 am ET. By Hemal Gosai.
Avianca, the largest airline in Colombia, was hit hard early during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline was already in a precarious financial situation leading up to the pandemic with over $7 billion in debt. The complete suspension of operations during the Colombian government’s lockdown is what tipped the airline over the edge.
The airline declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 10, 2020, right as the world was shutting down. It was a tense time for everyone, and this was one of the largest airline bankruptcies that could be directly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It took the airline 18 months to work through its financial restructuring process and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. One of the key tenets of the restructuring was a simplification of the fleet and an increase in capacity on narrowbody aircraft at the expense of business class.
The long-haul fleet is now exclusively Boeing 787 aircraft, the carriers Airbus A330 variants were all retired between 2020 and 2023. The 787 will retain business class seating.
The short-haul fleet, which almost entirely consists of Airbus A320 aircraft, started undergoing retrofits sometime in early 2022. The goal of the reconfiguration was to increase capacity by 20 percent by reducing seat pitch and removing business class.
A320 family aircraft now consist of three rows of Premium seats in a 2×2 configuration, ten rows of Plus seating, and then the remainder of the aircraft being economy seating. The Premium seats will have headrests, device holders, and USB ports along with the ability to recline.
Plus, seats will also feature the same amenities, but in a 3-3 configuration and less legroom.
Economy seats have an average pitch of 29’’ in a 3-3 configuration with seats that do not recline.
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