January 14, 2019 / 8:02 PM / 5 months ago

Avianca Brasil to cut fleet, avoid plane seizures for now: lawyer

FILE PHOTO: An Avianca Brasil Airbus A319-100 plane ands at Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian carrier Avianca Brasil will trim its fleet and return some leased planes to owners trying to repossess them, a lawyer for the airline said on Monday.

The attorney, who spoke on condition that he not be identified, also said the aircraft lessors had agreed to grant the airline 15 more days to fly the planes while renegotiating delinquent lease payments. The lawyer who spoke after a closed hearing in bankruptcy court said that details were not final.

Without a deal, the airline would have faced the immediate seizure of 20 percent of its fleet, which is owned by lessor Aircastle Ltd, and could have lost more planes in the future. The deal which includes several airplane lessors came together at the last minute.

As of Friday the airline had not made any concrete proposals to keep the planes, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Last week Avianca Brasil had a fleet of 46 planes, according to data from Brazilian aviation regulator ANAC. It is unclear how many planes it will voluntarily return as part of a fleet reduction plan.

Representatives for the airplane lessors declined to comment.

The airline filed for bankruptcy protections last month. Avianca Brasil is separate from the better-known Avianca Holdings SA AVT_p.CN, which is based in Colombia. But they share the same owner, a family company owned in part by Bolivian-born airline entrepreneur German Efromovich.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Christian Plumb and Jeffrey Benkoe

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