Brazil’s GOL and Colombia’s Avianca are to become sibling airlines under the charge of a new parent group called Abra Group Limited.
“Our vision is to create an airline group that tackles 21st-century issues and improves air travel for our customers, employees, and partners as well as the communities in which we operate,” said Roberto Krieto, newly-appointed Chairman of Abra Group.
Here’s what we know about the merger and what that means for travelers within the Americas and beyond.
Avianca and GOL Set To Merge
Two of Latin America’s largest airlines are joining forces.
The largest shareholder MOBI Fundo de Investimento em Ações Investimeno no Exterior (MOBI FIA) of GOL — Brazil’s largest domestic carrier — has entered into a Master Contribution Agreement (MCA) with some of Avianca Holding’s main shareholders.
Avianca Holding owns Aerovías del Continente Americano S.A., which is more commonly known as the Colombian flag carrier airline Avianca that recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Within the MCA, both airlines’ shareholders will contribute their shares to a new company named Abra Group Limited, which was incorporated in the U.K. under the laws of England and Wales.
Once this transaction is complete (pending regulatory approval) it means that Abra Group will have control over both airlines, as well as a non-controlling 100% economic interest in the operation of Colombia and Peru’s Viva.
At the controls of Abra Group will be the current principal shareholders of Avianca and the majority shareholder of GOL, while managing the running of the airlines will be 4 highly experienced aviation gurus: Roberto Kriete will act as the group’s Chairman, Constantino de Oliveira Junior will be appointed as CEO, and the current President and CEO of Avianca, Adrian Neuhauser, will work alongside the current CFO at GOL, Richard Lark, as co-presidents of the newly formed group.
What Does This Mean for Passengers?
According to a press release published by GOL, both airlines will continue to operate separately in the same way as they do now.
However, passengers will be able to book 1-ticket itineraries when flying both airlines, allowing for seamless transferring between GOL and Avianca flights.
“Our customers will benefit from access to even better fares, more destinations, more frequent flights and seamless connections, and the ability to earn and use points across the brands’ loyalty programs,” said Kriete.
As Avianca and GOL’s current route networks barely overlap, passengers will now have, in some cases, a whole new world of potential 1-stop itineraries thanks to the merger.
Taking a look at a map of GOL’s current route network, it’s primarily focused on connections within Brazil, as well as a few international links across the Americas.
Avianca, on the other hand, has a far wider-reaching network with nonstop service to more U.S. destinations than GOL, as well as Barcelona (BCN), London (LHR), and Madrid (MAD) in Europe.
Together, the airlines within the Abra Group will have a route network covering the majority of South and Central America with offshoots to America, Canada, the Caribbean, and even Europe.
Frequent flyers and members of Avianca LifeMiles and GOL Smiles will also be able to earn and redeem miles across both loyalty programs.
No new airline will be formed, and other than the points and status benefits above, passengers won’t notice any real difference when flying either of the airlines.
It’s hoped that the Abra Group will further reduce costs for the low-cost airlines all while continuing the operation of modern fleets, adding new routes, and taking their respective loyalty programs to the next level.
Latin American giants Avianca and GOL are merging together to create a Brazilian-Colombian super-airline.
While each airline will retain its own unique identity, passengers will be able to connect seamlessly between the airlines on an expanded route network covering most of Central and South America.
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