Avianca is the world's second oldest continuously operating airline. How has the company developed since its foundation?
Actually, Avianca is the commercial brand, and is the holding company for all Avianca carriers, which include TACA International Airlines, Trans American Airlines in Peru, LACSA in Costa Rica, and AeroGal in Ecuador. Yet in terms of a commercial brand, you will only see Avianca. We have a little over 19,000 employees, who are renowned for providing world-class customer service. Besides passengers, we also transport cargo as we handle Avianca Cargo under the commercial name of Tampa Cargo. We fly to almost 100 destinations across America, and three in Europe—Madrid, Barcelona, and London, with the latter launched in summer 2014. We have a modern aircraft fleet of about 168 short-, medium-, and long-haul range aircraft. Back in 2012, we joined Star Alliance, which is the largest alliance of the three in the industry. We also have over 5.4 million subscribers to our LifeMiles loyalty program.
Avianca's flights departing from Santo Domingo and Punta Cana connect more than 10 countries in South America in addition to Mexico, Panama, and Spain. What is the importance of the Dominican Republic for Avianca's operations?
Actually, it is important because the Dominican Republic is the largest market for Avianca in the Caribbean. It is the country that issues the most tickets and transports the most passengers. Within the Caribbean, we have operations in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curaçao, and Cuba, but the Dominican Republic is still the biggest market. It is also significant for us because we have had a great increase in business. We started this operation with three flights a week, and now we have daily flights. We have increased our operations to Lima, too. We only had two flights to begin with and now we have four flights per week to directly serve the Peruvian market. In the Dominican Republic, We have between a 75% and 85% load factor in the low season and 100% occupation load factor in high seasons.
How does Avianca distinguish itself from its competitors, and what have been the highlights for the company in 2014?
I think one of the key reasons passengers might chose Avianca over other airlines is our level of service, then I would say it is our fleet. We have, on average, five-year-old aircraft, which is new, and most of these planes have onboard personalized entertainment systems. We also have numerous programs for companies, such as leisure packages or corporate fares, where we give companies discounts for every purchase. In terms of highlights for 2014, these were the launch of the new route to London; the launch of the new ATR 72-600 aircraft in Central America, and the addition of the first Airbus A321 for Colombia.
In August 2014, Avianca Holdings and its subsidiaries carried more than 2.3 million passengers. That accounts for a 6.6% increase over the same period in 2013. What destinations have enjoyed the greatest popularity and what was the Dominican Republic's performance?
In the domestic markets of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, Avianca transported more than 1.3 million passengers, which was an 8.7% increase in comparison to August 2013. The seat capacity increased as well by 7.8% and as a result of this, the occupation was 78% of the load factor, which is impressive. For international markets, Avianca transported one million passengers on international routes, on a 3.8% increase, while the seat capacity rose by 3.4%. For the Dominican Republic, the passenger increase was 22%, versus August 2013, while revenues substantially increased by around 20%. We currently have one daily flight to Bogotá from Santo Domingo and flights four times a week to Lima, in addition to daily flights from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo. In the commercial area, we have nine employees, but if we include the airports in Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, it is around 45.