Hundreds of passengers stranded in Colombia, Peru as Viva Air grounded
Hundreds of passengers were stranded Tuesday at airports in Colombia and Peru after low-cost airline Viva Air suspended operations due to financial difficulties.
AFP witnessed scores of unhappy passengers who spent the night at Bogota's El Dorado airport, many sleeping on the floor while waiting for a flight to their intended destinations.
Others were grounded at Lima and Cusco airports in Peru.
Colombia's Civil Aviation Authority said flights to and from Lima, Mexico City and Cancun were affected.
Passengers in Colombia with a Viva Air ticket for February 27 or 28 or March 1 to Lima or Mexico City, will be offered a flight with Latam or Avianca at no extra cost, depending on seat availability, said the authority.
Additionally, the airlines Viva Aerobus, Volaris and Wingo, bound for Mexico City and Cancun, would offer affected passengers "special fares" to get to these destinations, it said.
Viva Air, on its website, "regretfully announces the suspension of its operation, due to delays in the timely definition of the alliance that would allow its integration with a stronger and larger airline group."
The airline added that "unfortunately, for now we will not be able to honor travel plans for passengers with current flights with Viva."
With 15 percent of the domestic market in Colombia and a subsidiary in Peru, Viva Air has been seeking government approval for a merger with Avianca, the largest airline in Colombia with 32 percent of market share.
The company has said the merger is the only way out of financial woes it blames on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dozens of Viva employees protested at the airport in Bogota Tuesday with slogans such as "Vida para Viva" (Life for Viva) and "Merger now!"
Peru's transport ministry said on Twitter it would initiate administrative proceedings against Viva "for non-compliance with coverage of its routes to and from our territory."
Sky Airline, Latam and JetSmart, it said, had offered to help passengers affected by the Viva failure.
Viva is a subsidiary of the Irelandia Aviation group -- founder of other low-cost airlines such as Ireland’s Ryanair and Mexico’s Viva Aerobus.
It has a fleet of 20 aircraft and operates 35 routes.