The FINANCIAL — After ten years in office, Chief Executive Officer Fabio Villegas Ramirez announced his resignation to the Board of Directors effective as of January 2016. The CEO expressed his interest in pursuing other professional projects and initiatives.
“It has been 10 years of intense collaboration, constant transformation in creating value for a company that in 2004 was on the verge of settlement and was able to find a visionary attitude in Grupo Syngery and a lifeline from its shareholders German and Jose Efromovich. The work we have done over the years has allowed us to position Avianca as one of the most prestigeous and fastest growing airlines in the region and the world”, said Fabio Villegas.
The figures speak for themselves. Avianca went from carrying 5 million passengers in 2005 to 26 million in 2014. Its fleet went from having 39 aircraft with an average age of more than 12 years, to having 181 next-generation aircraft, making it the most modern fleet in the region and keeping Avianca at the technology forefront, according to Avianca.
From its beginnigs as a local airline focused on the Colombian market serving 35 destinations, it transformed, after its merger with TACA in 2010, into a multinational airline with three hubs and a vast route network directly reaching more than 100 cities in America and Europe on a daily basis.
Each of the projects and achievements have been focused on quality service for its Avianca’s customers. As a result, the Company currently enjoys the preference and loyalty of its passengers, reflected in the more than 6 million LifeMiles members in its frequent flyer program. Amid the restrictions in local and regional infrastructure, the Company has managed to appease its effects and advance in its operational efficiency reaching compliance levels that exceed 90%.
Along with improved operational and service indicators, Avianca has had a noted financial strengthening. It went from generating revenues of US$709 million in 2004 to US$4.700 million in 2014. As a result profits have been generated year after year in the last decade, positioning the airline, in some periods, among the ten most profitable airlines in the world. In 2014, operating income totaled US$209 million. Its financial strength has enabled the company to access capital markets and its shares are traded today on the New York Stock Exchange.
Referring to the evolution of the company in these 10 years Fabio Villegas said: “We set out to make
Avianca one of the leading airlines in the region and I am glad to see that we have done just that. I have to thank each and every one of the 20,000 employees of Avianca, through their commitment and service focus under clear guidelines and strategic planning, we were able to keep the Company on the path of profitable growth.”
The CEO emphasized that: “What has been achieved is the result of collective collaboration. Today´s Avianca has the vision as well as the commitment of its shareholders, the support and guidance of its Board of Directors, the leadership and quality of its executives and the dedication and effort of its professionals in the different areas, pilots, cabin crews, engineers, technicians, ground and airport staff.
To each and every one of them I extend my appreciation and gratitude.”
He also made it clear that: “While we have come far, we still have much to achieve in the everyday work and there is still much to do. Commercial aviation is a complex and competitive world. It is a fight that does not cease. Avianca must continue to focus on service and operational quality. We must continue to innovate in order to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s traveler. It is also necessary to strengthen technology, and as I have always said, and not forget that the secret and the ability to differentiate ourselves is in our people and in building the culture of service.” He added: “In the coming months we will keep up our effort and work to meet operational, service and financial goals that we have set out for this year.”
For his part, German Efromovich, Chairman of the Board of Directors, highlighted and thanked the achievements of Mr. Villegas during his tenure as CEO of the Company in this decade and said that he would seek his advice and support from the Board, after he steps down.
Efromovich further noted: “In the remainder of this year we will continue to work in order to accommodate to the new realities of the market and the region, marked by a decline in economic growth in most of the countries served by Avianca. We will continue to adjust strategies to maintain the achieved leadership position and grow stronger as important players in international aviation.”
Regarding the successor as CEO of the Company, the Chairman said that he instructed the Human Resources and Compensation Committee, composed of members of the Board of Directors, to lead the selection process for the new CEO. To do this, they will rely on a firm specializing in search for top talent that will handle the recruitment of candidates with the skills required to lead the Company. He said he hopes that in the short term the Board will have the adequate information to make a decision.