Brazil suspends operations of airline Avianca Brasil

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A318-100 airplane of Avianca Brazil flies over the Guanabara Bay as it prepares to land at Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s civil aviation regulator ANAC said on Friday it had suspended all flights and operations of carrier Avianca Brasil in the country as a precautionary measure, following the company’s filing for bankruptcy late last year.

“All the flights are suspended until the company proves it has the capacity to maintain operations safely,” ANAC said in a statement.

Avianca Brasil has filed for bankruptcy protection and lost most of its fleet after lessors obtained favorable court decisions to take aircraft back for lack of payments. It is still trying to reach a deal to sell remaining assets.

The carrier, which is controlled by the same holding company as publicly traded Colombia-based Avianca Holdings SA, was operating around 30 flights per day using the planes it had left.

ANAC said, without elaborating, that it took the decision after receiving information regarding the operational safety of Avianca Brasil flights.

Avianca Brasil confirmed in a statement later on Friday the suspension of its flights and said it would comply with local legislation regarding refunds or finding room for its clients with other carriers.

The company said it would continue to work on its in-court reorganization as it looks to resume operations. It did not respond directly to the concerns ANAC raised.

Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Tom Brown and Rosalba O’Brien