In the latest of a series of consolidations in the airline industry, one of Latin America’s largest carriers could be on the block for a sale.
According to anonymous sources that spoke to the Wall Street Journal, Avianca Holdings SA has advisers shopping around for $500 million to bolster the company’s cash flow, but the deal could wind up being a sale to a larger foreign carrier.
Delta Airlines and United Continental Holdings, the second- and third-largest U.S. carriers, have been name-dropped as potential buyers. But because the Panama-based carrier is in its early stages of its search for capital, a deal might never come through.
Avianca owns the Colombian airline from which it takes its name as well as Tampa Cargo SA of Panama and Ecuador’s AeroGal. The deal would be yet another acquisition amid a flurry of similar deals in the U.S., Latin America and Europe where carriers are seeking to broaden their global networks.
In the U.S. alone, eight airlines have become four since 2008, commanding nearly 80 percent of the local market. Merger activity in Latin America has picked up since the global recession in 2009 and more recent economic troubles in Brazil and Argentina. In 2010, Avianca merged with Grupo Taca, a regional carrier group serving Central America and Peru. In Europe, German carrier Lufthansa said it would take part in regional consolidation in order to position itself better against rivals in Asia and the U.S.
Earlier this month, Avianca Brasil and Air Canada announced they would implement a code-sharing agreement that gives the Canadian carrier greater access to Brazilian destinations.