MIAMI Avianca (AV) Holdings S.A. will suspend all its international schedule and reduce flights within Colombia, as several countries have established travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

From March 23 until April 30, the Colombia-based carrier will reduce by 84% its domestic capacity, which will affect employees in various ways and ground 5 Airbus A320 and 5 ATR, said the airline in the statement.

The current situation also forces AV to park 132 aircraft: 22 wide-body, 100 narrow-body, and 10 ATR.

“This is, without a doubt, the greatest crisis for the airline industry in history. The decisions we are taking not only hurt us, they are extremely difficult, but we must be flexible and face the situation,” said President and CEO, Anko van der Werff.

“The full suspension of our international operation and the strong contraction of domestic demand forces us to send most of our employees home,” added van der Werff.

Measures to face the COVID-19 crisis

As a consequence, from today, March 20, AV will implement a hiring freeze, voluntary unpaid leave, negotiation of payment conditions with suppliers and partners, and the extension of non-essential costs and capital expenses.

Van der Werff also requested exceptional measures from regional governments to mitigate the social and economic impact of the coronavirus spread.

“If we want to reconnect Latin America and preserve the more than 20.000 jobs we create, we will need joint cooperation and collaboration of industry stakeholders and above all, the support and cooperation of governments”, stated van der Werff, on the heels of the request for government bailouts by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) and Airlines for America (A4A).