Avianca Brasil gives up 18 planes, cancels 1,045 flights

RIO DE JANEIRO — Avianca Brasil cancelled more than 1,045 domestic flights this week because it has to return 18 aircraft to leasing agencies.

Brazil's National Aviation Agency said the planes needed to be returned Monday to avoid affecting Holy Week holiday passengers. Customers can either get refunds for cancelled flights or rebook through partner airlines.

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Avianca Brasil declined to say how many planes it has left. But the G1 news portal reports that the airline has just seven planes still in its fleet.

On April 1, the airline cancelled several international routes from Sao Paulo to New York, Miami and Santiago, Chile.

Avianca Brasil filed for bankruptcy in December after failing to pay leases on its aircraft. The airline, formerly known as Ocean Air, has licensed the name Avianca since 2010 from Colombian carrier Avianca Holdings SA. They are separate companies with the same owners: brothers German and Jose Efromovich. The latter is being investigated for allegedly failing to pay airport fees in Salvador airport in northeastern Brazil.

A company representative from Avianca's headquarters in Colombia stressed that the Brazilian company is independent from Avianca Holdings group, both operationally and financially. The company said in a statement that flights operated by Avianca Holdings SA from hubs in Bogota and Lima, Peru, to destinations in Brazil will not be affected by the Avianca Brasil cancellations.

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