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Exclusive: Avianca Brazil to Invest up to $100 million with Aeromar

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Director for Avianca in Brazil
Director for Avianca in Brazil

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

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As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition December 2017

McAllen Aviation Director Elizabeth Suarez met with a high-ranking executive from Avianca Brazil, as well as with Martin Cobián, Aeromar’s Commercial Director.

During this visit, Texas Border Business spoke to Ian Gillespie, the director for Avianca in Brazil; the company will invest multimillion dollars in the Mexican airline. Gillespie’s responsibility is to look after the international division of their different operations in Latin America.

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What is your relationship with Aeromar? “Avianca Group, namely, under Synergy Group which is the holding company that owns the different Avianca brand companies has invested in Aeromar.” Gillespie said, “Since last year, we’ve started an approximation with Aeromar to look at different ways we can contribute to the growth of the airline.”

One of those responsibilities is to visit the different stations where Aeromar operates to see how they can work together to make things better for their customers.

Currently, Avianca flies to Houston and Dallas, but not in the Rio Grande Valley region. He said, “In the region, we intend to, of course, improve the way that we work as a group backing Aeromar with their different operations including McAllen.”

How large is Avianca? How many airplanes? “The group has over 250 aircrafts, comprised of Avianca Colombia, the national airline of Colombia.” “We also have Avianca Brazil based in São Paulo operating with 50 aircrafts.” Last November, the airline group started Avianca Argentina, to connect through Buenos Aires to the Avianca international network.

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Gillespie said, “Our plan in Mexico is to work together with Aeromar to develop a similar offer for customers. Aeromar can offer connectivity to the Avianca networks through Mexico City and other places. We’re looking at the McAllen airport to see how we can look at new operations and developments.”

“We’re looking at all opportunities, Avianca and Aeromar have a commercial agreement with United Airlines, this brings us closer to the region, United has a significant place in Texas. We, also as Avianca are part of Star Alliance, a worldwide alliance that joins Airlines and their customers to facilitate their trips.”

This alliance is vital because with United Airlines their passengers can accumulate miles in the United Airlines Mileage Plus program. The benefit for McAllen is that customers from the McAllen area and the Valley that use Aeromar can earn miles to use later to fly on United.

Gillespie said, “We’re working towards all that unification of products to serve this area better. For the time being, we will continue to fly to McAllen and Avianca will continue to fly to Houston and Dallas and we will work with our partner United to give better facilities to the people in the region.”

What is your stake in Aeromar? “Avianca, has at the moment has 49%. We’ll be investing up to a hundred million dollars in the venture.” He continued, “But apart from the actual capital we’re looking more at technology and fleet in the future supporting Aeromar with new aircraft and looking at different systems to unify with the group under the same system. There’s more than just the financial investment; there is also investment in people and technology,” he said.

For the time being the two airlines will operate with their own identity and with their branding.” Gillespie stated, “It has happened in the group in the past. The Avianca and Grupo TACA joined forces merged and now are just Avianca. In Ecuador, we had a partner airline called Aerogal; it is now Avianca Ecuador.” They work for what is best for the customer. The most important thing now is to make sure that the joint venture works well and that we gain our customers confidence with excellent service. Then we’ll see what the future brings us.”

“We have dynamic growth in Colombia, Brazil, and in Argentina, and we look at Mexico as a great opportunity as well. McAllen has the shopping and the gastronomic offers. We are very encouraged with what we’ve discussed, and the support from the airport and various institutions here is fantastic. So, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see each other more often and see the growth of the business,” he finalized. TBB

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