Net losses at Colombia's Avianca up 22% in 2020

BOGOTA, March 29 (Reuters) - Net losses at airline Avianca Holdings increased 22% to $1.09 billion in 2020, due to the near-paralysis of global air travel because of COVID-19, the company said on Monday.

The airline, which is carrying out a restructuring process under the U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy law, had losses of $894 million in 2019.

Operations contracted 74% year-on-year, the airline said in a filing to Colombia’s financial regulator, while operating income was down to $1.71 billion, from $4.62 billion in 2019.

Keeping passenger planes grounded due to coronavirus meant Avianca reduced its costs to $2.3 billion in 2020 from $5.17 billion the year before, the statement said.

Passenger numbers fell 74% to 7.9 million, the company said, and 33% of income was provided by $556 million in earnings from its cargo business.

In October a U.S. bankruptcy court approved a proposed financing plan of over $2 billion to help the carrier exit Chapter 11 restructuring.

The company had $911 million in cash at the close of last year and still-available financing commitment of $350 million.

“This reflects our solid liquidity, after successfully acquiring about $2 billion in Debtor-in-Possession - DIP - financing last year, including more than $1.2 billion in new resources, all of which is private capital,” Avianca said.

Colombia’s flagship airline has a fleet of 158 planes and 19,000 employees. (Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Stephen Coates)