The ultra-low-cost carrier Viva Air of Colombia has declared that it will stop its operations. According to the Associated Press, thousands of people are stranded in airports without assistance. The airline, which formerly flew inside Colombia and to different destinations in North, Central, and South America, is owned by the same corporation as Ryanair.

Since the Colombian government denied the airline’s request to merge with Avianca, the country’s main airline, according to the statement released by the company on Monday. Early this month, Viva stopped dozens of flights and grounded five of its aircraft.

Viva Air’s History

Last year, Viva and Avianca asked Colombia’s aviation authority for permission to merge their companies. However, the merger was stopped by government officials. According to local media, they are worried that it will make the airline business less competitive. In November, the Colombian government confirmed that the merger was denied because it would hurt competition. Officials also said that the merger would lead to monopolies in the country.

Since then, the management of the struggling airline has met with Aerocivil, where they talked about how bad the airline’s finances are and how it needs a buyout to keep running.

“Today, Civil Aeronautics published a communication acknowledging the interests of many third parties on Viva’s urgent request to allow its integration with a stronger and broader group of airlines,” according to an official statement on the airline’s website. “This unprecedented decision by the entity will result in further delays in making a decision, for which Viva is forced to announce, unfortunately, the suspension of its operations with immediate effect.”

The Airline’s Terrible Financial Situation

Viva told the government that they had shown plenty of proof of its terrible financial situation. According to Viva Air, the only way it could stay in business was to merge with Colombia’s larger airline.

“The Colombian government’s decision puts the future of low-cost airlines in Colombia and the jobs of 5,000 people at risk,” the statement said.

Viva held a 20 percent share of Colombia’s air passenger market last month, while Avianca held a 40 percent share. Avianca stated that merging the two companies would have resulted in a stronger and a more competitive airline. They also stated that the newly merged carrier would have better served Colombia’s passengers and provided greater access to air travel.

The Beginning of the Copy

Viva started its operations in 2009. The company had flights to the biggest cities in Colombia, as well as to Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Florida. In 2017, the company switched to ‘Viva Air’ with group operations in Colombia and Peru. Since its launch, it has been a leader in low-cost flights in Colombia. Before the pandemic, the low-cost airline wanted to expand its presence in Latin America. It also opened new routes to other countries in the area, like Chile and Ecuador.

When more and more passengers flew with Viva Air in its early days, the carrier was greeted with great enthusiasm in Colombia. Due to the pandemic, Viva Air Colombia has been forced to cancel its growth ambitions. The company was forced to reduce the number of flights because of the decrease in traveler numbers.

Passengers on Viva Air will now battle the airline for a refund or credit in an effort to recover some of the money they spent on tickets. The airline did not respond to Travel Noire’s attempts to contact them for comment.