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Avianca Holdings today retires the TACA brand, updates its logo, livery and product

Avianca Holdings S.A. (Avianca) (Bogota) today (May 28) as planned, formally retired the TACA brand and the previous AviancaTaca Holding company. All aircraft will be repainted in the new Avianca brand. Avianca is updating its logo, livery and product as we previously reported. This announcement will end the history of TACA and AviancaTaca Holding. Our slide show below recalls the aircraft and many liveries of TACA International. The holding company issued this statement:

As announced in late 2012 and after three years of intense work aimed at integration and reorganization of operations and processes, ground and air equipment modernization, and the adoption of industry best practices, the airlines in Avianca Holdings S.A. (formerly known as AviancaTaca Holding S.A.) begin a new stage in their business development under the commercial brand Avianca, with its new visual standards.

Avianca (2013) logo

Honoring the business development reached by Avianca and TACA Airlines with 94 and 82 years of uninterrupted operations, respectively, the new identity bonds the heritage of the route network, envisioning connecting the continent through all cardinal points, capturing in the logo the service provided through the skies of the Americas.

Avianca (2013) Tail (Avianca)(LR)

The image of the “new Avianca” will be displayed in over 160 airplanes, 14 thousand seats onboard, 214 ticket offices, 100 airports, VIP lounges in 25 countries, as well as the corporate buildings in the Americas and Europe. This new image will also dress over 13,000 employees with client service positions -out of the 18,000 total-, and identify our new integrated website, social networks, onboard reading materials, and corporate communications media in general.

This new image highlights a very important chapter in the airline´s history, striving to provide a strong product and service offer in order to become the ideal partner for business and leisure travelers.

Avianca (2013) cabin (Avianca)(LR)

Fabio Villegas, Avianca Holdings CEO said: “The single commercial brand represents a very important milestone for an improved flight offer and an interesting challenge to Avianca’s service capacity. For that reason, the airlines’ background and the professionalism and experience shared by the many generations of men and women who have contributed with their work to Avianca, TACA Airlines, Aerogal, and Tampa Cargo, have become our inspiration.”

“More than 5.100 weekly flights operated on a modern fleet enable us to help our travelers reach 100 destinations in 25 countries throughout the Americas and Europe, provide access to 21.900 daily flights served around the world by Star Alliance member airlines, be preferred by more than 23 million passengers who choose our services yearly for their travel plans and the transportation of 300 thousand tons of goods. This motivates us to assure the “new Avianca”, as the leading airline in Latin America preferred by the world´s travelers,” quoted the executive.

Three years of achievements

Fleet. The combined fleet size between Avianca and TACA Airlines at the moment of their integration was 129 aircraft. Currently the company has 151 aircraft in operation. Within its fleet modernization plan, Avianca recently announced the incorporation of Airbus A320neo airplanes equipped with new generation engines, as well as aircraft fitted with sharklets, which provide a 4% better fuel economy than previous models. Avianca welcomed the first aircraft of this type to its fleet in February.

Tampa Cargo acquired four new A330-200 freighters with cargo capacity of 68 tons in order to strengthen the cargo business. The first aircraft of its type joined the fleet in December of last year.

The company also announced the standing offer to purchase 15 ATR 72-600 aircraft, along with the option to purchase an additional 15 of the same model. This turboprop fleet is intended to serve routes within Colombia and Central America and will join the fleet beginning July this year. Finally, the company has confirmed the purchase order for 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, to operate transatlantic routes starting in 2014.

Route Network. Currently, the “new Avianca” covers 100 destinations in 25 countries in the Americas and Europe, through 5,100 weekly flights. The domestic and international connections operate from and to Bogota (Colombia), with more than 2,656 weekly flights, San Salvador (El Salvador), with 532 weekly flights, and Lima (Peru) with 483 frequencies per week. Also connections to and from other Latin American capitals are part of this comprehensive route network.

In addition to its own network, travelers connecting through Avianca are able to reach more than 1,320 cities around the world thanks to code-share and interline agreements with world renowned airlines, granting access to 990 VIP lounges and enjoying multiple benefits provided by the Star Alliance network around the world.

Transported Passengers. As a result of the synergies of the route network, the airlines in Avianca Holdings S.A. have experimented passenger growth. A comparison between 2010 and 2012 reflects an increase of 31.88%. In 2010, the airlines transported 17´510.881 passengers, reaching 20´454.924 in 2011, while in 2012 the number increased to 23´092.533 passengers.

Joining Star Alliance. Avianca and TACA Airlines officially joined Star Alliance on June 21, 2012, which is the largest global airline network in terms of daily flights, coverage, and services. As a result travel advantages and options for our travelers multiplied. In order to be accepted as member airline of the alliance, multiple requirements had to be fulfilled along with several service and operational standards. The “new Avianca” maintains these standards and complies with the periodical audits required.

Avianca Cargo. In 2010 the Cargo businesses of Avianca, TACA, and Aerogal were integrated to Tampa Cargo, building on more than 100 years of experience in the field. After centralizing management, operations, and service the cargo offer underwent a strengthening process. As part of this process the airline announced the acquisition of 4 A330-200 freighters with 68 ton capacity and became the first airline to operate this model in Latin America.

With the expansion of capacity through dedicated aircraft, as well as the bellies of the passenger fleet, the route network was also broadened to meet importer and exporter needs in Latin America, accompanied by the implementation of new integrated technologies for all the business. Today, under the name “Avianca Cargo” this business unit focuses on delivering increased connectivity and services through advanced technology and a highly specialized human team.

Technology. Avianca continues moving forward in the implementation of the latest technology in order to better serve its passengers. In addition to online tools for checking fares, booking reservations, purchasing tickets and seat selections, the airline has been implementing self-check-in modules in 36 of the airports where it currently operates. Travelers can also make use of the web check-in feature for routes in the Americas, allowing them to check-in from the comfort of their home or office.

Passengers may also check-in using their smartphones. This service is initially available for domestic flights in Colombia and Peru, and direct international flights, except Europe, from El Salvador and Medellin and from Bogota to South America, improving check point and boarding times by showing the boarding pass on their smartphones.

VIP Lounges. This past February, Avianca opened its new 2,000 square meter VIP Lounge located in the international terminal of Eldorado Airport in Bogota, aimed at the members of its frequent flyer program, LifeMiles, and business class travelers. In meeting its service improvement plan, the airline will also refresh the VIP lounges in Cali, Barranquilla, Medellin, Cartagena, and San Salvador.

LifeMiles. It was the first joint business deliverable. The unified loyalty program was the result of integrating best practices of both Avianca and TACA, and improving them based on studies on the leading loyalty programs from top airlines around the world. LifeMiles has more than five million members and was recognized by travelers with a Freddie Award in the category of Best Redemption Ability, making it the only loyalty program in Latin America to receive a Freddy Award during the 2013 edition.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. All others by Avianca. A look back at one of the first jets for TACA International. BAC 1-11 407AW YS-17C (msn 093) taxies to the runway at Miami on October 19, 1980.

Avianca: AG Slide Show

TACA: AG Slide Show

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Historic Photo of the Day – May 19, 2013

Quebecair BAC 1-11 402AP CF-QBR (msn 009) YYY (Bruce Drum). Image: 102855.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

Quebecair: AG Slide Show

Frameable Color Prints and Posters: AG All Photos Available

Prop It Up: Mohawk’s Incredible Weekends Unlimited

Guest Editor Dave Nichols

Mohawk’s Incredible Weekends Unlimited

In April of 1970, I took two weeks off from ‘work flying’ to do some ‘fun flying’ and visit family back in Pennsylvania.  Part of the reason for going home was to experience Mohawk Airlines “Weekends Unlimited” program.  The plan was so original and different:  fly most places in their system on Saturday and Sunday for a net fare of $33.95, with firm reservations!  The cool part was you could fly the entire weekend if you wanted to, literally stepping off one aircraft and onto another.  A few places were off-limits, like Canada and Minneapolis.  You could make reservations any time after noon on Wednesday for that weekend’s flights.  Mohawk (MO) would then issue real tickets for all the flights you were reserved on.  Wow.  Looking at the timetable, MO did not reduce the schedule much on Saturday or Sunday.  New York State and New England were areas I had not explored much.

I spent probably two hours in trip planning at home.  The timetable I used is still in my collection.  I made myself a few targets, wanting to be sure to get to Boston, Syracuse (SYR) and Providence (PVD), as I had never been there.  Utica-Rome, New York (UCA) was Mohawk headquarters and overhaul shops so that was a must-see, too.  Any other cities would be a bonus.  I carefully planned a chain of flights for the weekend.  There was a lot of trial and error involved, kind of like figuring out a maze.  I didn’t want to get trapped at a particular terminal with no alternate way out should weather or a mechanical occur.  Let me put the fare into perspective:  $33.95 in 1970 would normally buy you a 100-mile segment, round-trip.  You can see that the Unlimited Weekend was a real deal.

On Wednesday, at “noon :02” I made the phone call.  The Mohawk reservationist did not share my enthusiasm when I told her my plan.  I heard air gasping into her microphone.  She grumbled that a superior would have to be consulted since so many legs were involved.  There was a hint that no cities could be visited more than once.  I was not popular in her world and I was becoming aware that she could crush my plan like an empty ice cream cone.  After the huddle at MO’s reservation center, all was approved.  I told her I would even stop by the Utica res center on Saturday afternoon to say thanks – she declined.  I was reminded that I would have to be heading in the magnetic direction of home by 6:00 p.m. Sunday.  The woman sneered when she said the ticket counter agent would really enjoy writing 10 tickets for me.

I had decided early on to start and end this extravaganza at home – Erie, Pennsylvania – instead of driving the 100 miles to Buffalo.  More options would be available at BUF but I wanted to make this easy on myself; just pure fun.  Erie only had four Mohawk flights a day but it would work.  I even went to the terminal a day early to be ticketed during quiet time.  The lead MO passenger agent had been at the ERI station since 1956 and was a little rough hewn but he wrote my tickets – all by hand back then.  I did notice he was grinding his teeth.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Sister aircraft BAC 1-11 204AF N1127J (msn 180) “Dominion of Canada” in the 1965 delivery livery taxies to the gate at New York (LaGuardia).

Saturday morning, launch day, arrived with great weather across the Mohawk system.  My first flight was MO 197, a BAC 1-11, N1115J, from Erie to Detroit at 10:35 a.m.  I was flying in the opposite direction from the core of their system but Detroit gave me lots of possibilities and a seat on their new Detroit-Hartford non-stop.  How’s that for a local service airline?  Climbout from ERI is always exhilarating:  the wooded landscape as green as nature can provide, the sweeping peninsula with miles of sandy beaches and Lake Erie itself.  The 138 nautical mile leg only took :35 of air time.

Detroit-Metro airport was the springboard for an interesting flight:  MO 84 non-stop to Hartford, Connecticut (BDL) and then on to Boston.  The cutesy, 70-something seat BAC 1-11 would only need 1:30 air time to get us there.  Amazing.  The airplane turned out to be the same one that brought me up from Erie.  The crew had flown BOS-SYR-BUF-ERI-DTW starting at 8:00 a.m.   Their workday would be done back at Boston.  Off we went, retracing our steps over Lake Erie but a lot higher this time.  I could see the City of Erie from flight level 290, which was a first for me.  Flying across the woodlands of southern New York State is quite picturesque.  Hartford, a major insurance center, was a quick stop – only 12 minutes in the timetable.  We landed early, which insured an on-time departure.

Heading northeast to Boston I was able to make out the tip of Cape Cod to our right.  I imagined the PBA DC-3s shuttling in and out of Provincetown.  Boston was certainly weathered, both the city and Logan Airport.

The next flight was BOS-Providence (PVD)-Albany-Utica/Rome on another black/white/gold BAC 1-11. All these cities were new to me.   Flight 189 departed at 4:00.  Providence looked nice and seemed like a great place to live.  Albany, New York was a beehive of MO activity, then and before.   Mohawk used ALB as the staging point for service to upstate New York and Vermont.  Albany also featured almost hourly flights to New York City – even years previous with the Convair 240.  The FH-227B carried those loads in 1970.  Utica-Rome (UCA) is in a handsome wooded area, kind of at the feet of the Adirondack Mountains.   It was the bonafide headquarters of Mohawk.  We landed at 6:00 pm which amazed me that three cities could have been covered in just two hours.  Also, I developed an even greater respect for the 1-11, being such a perfect fit for Mohawk.  I only had forty minutes to walk around outside the terminal.  Mohawk’s large office building and hangar was impressive.  UCA was not a hub for MO but there were frequently one to two airplanes on the ramp.  [Today, UCA is no longer an airport; everything is X’d out].

I wolfed down a generic airport sandwich and headed for my last plane of the day.  I always look forward to propellers and the short 35 minute leg from UCA to Elmira, New York would be on a Fairchild 227B. turboprop.  I’ve never been a proponent of the FH227 but any prop ride is a good ride.  In May 1970, Mohawk was operating 16 Fairchilds and 15 BAC 1-11s.  Mohawk had plans to be an all BAC 1-11 airline as five FH-227s had already been sold off.  Amazing for a regional carrier to be disposing of aircraft that were bought new in 1966!

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B “227 Vista Jet” M7819M (msn 542)  “City of Albany” rests at the gate at Syracuse. N7819M also carries an additional Allegheny Airlines sticker as the end of Mohawk nears.

N7817M was ready to board.  I counted 48 seats and the flight was half full.  The scenic and famous Finger Lakes were off the right wing on this leg.  This was the type of flying you wish would not end.  Elmira (ELM) is a smallish city at the southern mid-section of New York State but generated good loads for Mohawk.  It sported BAC 1-11 service, as well.  I would overnight here.  Hoping to follow the crew to their chosen motel I noticed they still had some flying to do.  The first officer said they would go to Ithaca and on to JFK.  So I chose a nearby motel that offered terminal pick-up.  It was a family-run place, single story, with a parking space in front of each door.  Set back from the highway, it featured large swing sets in the front yard.  A classic.

The next morning was an interesting flight from ELM  non-stop to Washington-National (DCA).  I was impressed that Elmira would have such a trip.  MO 340, another FH-227B, N7813M, left at the civilized time of 8:25 a.m.  Even in the non-speedster Fairchild (about 180 knots indicated), the time enroute to DCA was only 1:05.  Never a dull second sightseeing on final approach and at the terminals,  Washington-National had already outgrown itself.  Airplanes were shoe-horned at the gates and three deep on the ramps, especially Allegheny.  Everyone should scope out DCA sometime.

A twenty-five minute connection put me aboard MO 41, a BAC 1-11 with non-stop service to Rochester, New York (ROC).  In fact, a quick look at my itinerary confirmed that all my trips today would be non-stops.  Mohawk was working at creating more non-stops and less of the 3-5 stoppers the regional airlines were known for.  Rochester, touching Lake Ontario, has the Genesee River flowing through the city along with the Erie Canal, forming an X pattern.  Eastman Kodak had a big presence in Rochester back in 1970.

MO 34 non-stop to Newark awaited at 1:20 p.m.  Just 55 minutes later the BAC 111 was swooping across the threshold at EWR.  The airport was a crowded place and well worn like LaGuardia, DCA and BOS.  Not much on my sentimentality meter, I was out of there in less than an hour.  Flight 57, a BAC 1-11, N1131J (an aircraft purchased from Aloha), non-stop to Syracuse was next.

Another comfortable leg of less than an hour, SYR comes into view.  Large Oneida Lake sits north of the city.  Erie Canal history permeates this town.  This would be my shortest connection time, only 19 minutes.  Ten minutes after pulling into the gate, flight 33 landed, inbound from JFK.  I joined those folks after just a fourteen-minute turn.

1970 Route Map:

We were off to Buffalo, New York (BUF) that only takes a half-hour.  If one is fortunate enough to see Niagara Falls on a visual approach, it is something to behold.  In winter, BUF quite possibly gets more snowfall than any city east of the Rockies.  Maybe more of us should see Buffalo in January so we can reconfirm how lucky we have it.  Buffalo was a strong station for Mohawk, lots of activity going to places all over their system.

I made a routine connection there to another MO BAC 1-11, N2111J (the first jet delivered for Mohawk) at 6:35 p.m. and proceeded home to Erie.  It is only 95 air miles and we landed at 7:00.  I visited twelve very different cities, set foot in eight states, for under forty bucks!  Had every segment been a FH-227, the enroute sightseeing would have been primo but I still gained the flavor of the geography.  Thanks Mohawk, for a genuine unlimited weekend of flying.

Write Dave Nichols at propitupblog@gmail.com

Read Dave previous articles:

What Allegheny Meant To Me: CLICK HERE

A Day with Southern Airways: CLICK HERE

Mohawk Airlines: 

All timetables, maps and logos kindly suppled by Airline Timetables.