Avianca is rocked by striking pilots and warring owners

business


HERNÁN RINCÓN has big plans for Avianca. He has run the Colombian airline since leaving the top job at Microsoft’s Latin American business last year. Now he wants to turn the world’s second-oldest carrier into a “digital company that flies planes”—using technology to improve customer experience and operations—and rival Chile’s LATAM, the regional leader. And he hopes soon to seal a strategic partnership with United Airlines, America’s fourth-biggest by passenger numbers.

However, progress towards these goals has stalled. A month-long strike by pilots demanding better pay has disrupted journeys of 375,000 passengers. Complicating life further for Mr Rincón is a court battle between two shareholders: Germán Efromovich, a Bolivian businessman, and Roberto Kriete, a tycoon from El Salvador. A dispute over how to run the airline turned nasty after Mr Efromovich announced the United tie-up in January. Mr Kriete sued both airlines, Mr Efromovich, his brother José and Synergy (…

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