BOGOTA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Struggling Latin American airline Avianca is optimistic about future results despite losses of $894 million in 2019, executives said on Friday, and will refinance some of its debt this year.
The airline weathered a rough restructuring last year, after majority shareholder Synergy Group Corp lost control of the company when it breached a loan agreement with United Airlines.
The company is also the subject of two investigations by Colombian authorities, one into ticketing irregularities and the other connected to the global scandal involving $4 billion in alleged bribes paid by airplane manufacturer Airbus.
Avianca said in a filing to Colombia’s financial regulator late on Thursday night it posted losses of $894 million during all of 2019 and of $377.9 million in the fourth quarter.
“The numbers from last year are a mix between the first two quarters which had many complications, but from the moment we took the decision to start the transformation the numbers got much better,” Chief Executive Anko van der Werff told Reuters in a phone interview.
“The strongest element that hit us last year was the fleet, selling the fleet and readjusting the fleet” van der Werff added, referring to the sale of 14 planes for some $100 million.
The company plans to refinance some of its debt this year, Chief Financial Officer Adrian Neuhauser said, though overall it wants to reduce its debt load.
“Are we planning to refinance this year? Yes. Is it urgent to refinance today in the volatile market that we have with the uncertainty that there is in this moment? No, and so we will wait for the adequate moment to do it during the year,” Neuhauser said.
The airline has not yet been affected by the global outbreak of coronavirus, van der Werff said.
“We haven’t had any problems, but it could be different going forward in the coming weeks,” he said. “It depends how it evolves and how the solution against the virus develops.” (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Nick Zieminski)