News Latin America The Superindustry ignores its arguments and archives the investigation against Avianca and...

The Superindustry ignores its arguments and archives the investigation against Avianca and Viva Air

The luck of Avianca and Viva has overcome another stumbling block on the road to formalizing their long and tortuous business merger process. The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) announced, on Friday night, that it will archive the investigation that was underway against the airlines for having advanced their integration plans without the approval of Aerocivil, the regulator of the Colombian aeronautical market. A controversial turn at the last minute, since the SIC had objected to the operation with a file that argued that there was an infraction: the marriage had been consummated without the approval of the authorities.

The last word now belongs to Aerocivil, which after giving the green light to the transfer, on March 22, is in the process of studying the challenge presented by the Chilean Latam, one of the great opponents of the pact between the airlines. colombian It should be remembered that, despite the fact that Aerocivil also raised objections at the time, with serious doubts about the hoarding level that the business still represents, it seems that the two control bodies have opted for what various experts have described as “a bad minor” for a market in times of turbulence.

Both the Aerocivil and the SIC, in fact, have imposed a series of conditions, to unlock a process that revives the dying low cost Viva Air, on the verge of liquidation and with a dozen planes on the ground.

“The guarantees are aimed at Avianca and Viva Air implementing regulatory compliance programs in terms of protection of competition so that the investigated conduct is not repeated,” says the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce. It also stresses that its resolution generates “greater benefits for competition and consumers compared to what would be achieved through a sanction.” The lawyer Jorge Enrique Sanchez, former superintendent and staunch opponent of the merger, is surprised: “It was proven that they violated the integration regime and they end the investigation with the promise that they will not do it again.” In fact, last Friday the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca admitted a popular lawsuit filed by him: “we hope that the judge will bring all the authorities who have been wrong on this issue to a halt.”

Additionally, the airlines will have to return each year during the high season – from April to October – a significant number of ‘slots’, the time slots that determine the takeoff and landing of aircraft at airports. It is one of the sensitive issues for a union that will bring together close to 60% of the country’s air market, and more than 90% on thirty routes. According to the latest conditions published by Aerocivil, 33.6 departure slots and 31.1 arrival slots should return at the El Dorado airport in Bogota. Avianca appealed that measure.

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Emilio Archila, lawyer for the bankruptcy and opposition airline aero, assures that the guarantees do not meet “the minimum requirements that are demanded by law.” And he adds that they will appeal the SIC’s decision from Ultra: “We totally trust Superintendent Pimiento and we know that she will carefully analyze our arguments.”

Part of the Superintendency’s analysis, explains the expert Claudia Velasquez, is based on the fact that the only possibility of protecting passengers is the approval of the absorption of Viva by Avianca. It is a government position, she continues, “to avoid legal problems tomorrow. That is why it is important that Avianca take ownership of the problem as soon as possible. I even think it is a logical decision because it cushions deeper effects on the aviation sector, tourism, industry and workers. Guillermo Reyes, Minister of Transportation, assured this week that Viva should take off again at the end of April. With the decision of the SIC, the skies are cleared so that the planes of the low cost airline cross the skies.

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