Viva Air: Argentines stranded by the suspension of the airline’s flights

A hundred Argentine tourists who had to travel by plane to Buenos Aires were stranded in several countries after the low-cost airline Viva Air, of Colombia, to suspend all its operations. Protests were registered yesterday at different Colombian airports, despite the fact that the company offered passengers their money back. And it is that those affected affirm that the prices for which they obtained the tickets are different from the current prices. Several videos circulated on Twitter showing the moments of tension that were experienced at the airports, and although a first response came about a possible reassignment for those who were going to travel on February 27, 28 and March 1it is not yet known what solution will be found for those who have flights scheduled for other dates.

Some assured that what happened is part of a Viva Air plan to pressure the Colombian government to authorize its merger with the Avianca company, which would have been prevented by the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics (Aerocivil) in November, under the premise that this union would be monopolistic and would affect market competition. “They are sacrificing the passengers to put pressure on the government,” some indignant tweeters declared. Magaly Trujillo, one of the affected passengers, made statements to the newspaper El Tiempo: “The only thing they tell us is that the flight is canceled and that they are only responsible for the ticket value. Here there are families with small children, with older adults, people who had connections, others who are going to lose their vacations in Colombia,” said the passenger, outraged.

After an appeal by Avianca and Viva, Aerocivil annulled the integration process in January alleging irregularities in the procedure. On the other hand, this month the airline jetSMART announced its intention to buy 100% of Viva, a bid to which it joined LATAM Airlines. Viva stated that allowing it to become the low-cost subsidiary of a larger and stronger airline group is the only option to continue offering Colombian travelers access to low prices: the company is in a delicate financial situation due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the increase in the price of fuel during the past year and the devaluation of the Colombian peso.

“We regret to inform the temporary suspension of our operations given the lack of timely definition of the Civil Aeronautics about the alliance between Viva and Avianca, the only possibility to continue operating and fulfill our commitments,” read a statement from the company, where It was also added: “We inform passengers with current flights with Viva that for now we will not be able to honor their travel plans and we will inform them in a timely manner of the steps to follow after this decision.”

For their part, from Civil Aeronautics, they expressed that “the airlines Latam, Avianca and Satena offer the alternative transportation on shared routes, according to the availability of seats, at no additional cost.” In addition, from the entity they assured that the Group of Intermediation in Airports of the Civil Aeronautics will accompany the passengers who have been affected in the management and orientation before the airlines.

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