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After much deliberation, the board of directors of Avianca Holdings appointed the Dutchman Anko van der Werff as the new president of the organization, who will take office on July 15 of this year. Van der Werff will replace Hernán Rincón, who leaves office in one of the most difficult moments for the company, where debt and financial insolvency threaten his independence.
Van der Werff comes to the position after serving as commercial executive of Aeromexico, having previously worked for other airlines such as Qatar Airways and Air France – KLM being a key piece in the evolution of both. In total, Avianca’s new CEO adds more than 19 years of experience in the commercial aviation industry.
“Anko becomes part of our team to help us lead this challenging moment in the industry. His great experience in international airlines will not only allow us to continue our transformation, it will also give us the opportunity to strengthen the loyalty of our customers, to enliven the commitment of our employees and to strengthen the competitiveness of our company and its financial situation. “Said Roberto Kriete, who is chairman of the board of directors of Avianca Holdings.
Van der Werff is a lawyer from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and also graduated from Harvard Business School , he also speaks Spanish fluently, which undoubtedly helped to make him a candidate for the position.
To lead in a difficult time
The last few years have been very stormy for the second oldest commercial airline in the world. They finished the first quarter of the year reporting losses of $ 67.9 million dollars. In addition, two subsidiaries of Avianca: Avianca Argentina and Avianca Brasil, which are also part of Avianca Holdings, had to close last month.
To all this must be added a low risk rating product of the disappointing financial results and poor performance as a debtor. During the last year of Germán Efromovich as the majority shareholder of Avianca, the airline acquired a debt with United Continental Holdings, to which United belongs. The terms of the contract on which the loan was built were violated almost immediately by Avianca, which put at risk the 51% share of Efromovich with which United could have stayed to take Avianca.
For Van der Werff, putting the finances of the company in order will be his first and biggest challenge. You must find a way to implement a recovery plan for the losses sustained during the last year.
The plan will likely involve the sale of unproductive assets and a reduction in Avianca’s operating scale. According to El Colombiano, this sale could start with its participation in different Latin American airlines such as 50% of OneLink BPO (headquartered in Panama) controlled by Avianca, as well as Turboprop Leasing Company (Costa Rica) and Aerotaxis La Costeña (Nicaragua).
Another huge problem that afflicted Avianca during this last and stormy year was the strike of the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators (Acdac), which lasted 51 days and cost Avianca more than $ 200 million in losses. However, the arrival of Van der Werff was well received by the union, to whom they expressed their support in a press release.
“We are confident that the experience that our new CEO has in the sector and its proven results in the industry will be fundamental in this new stage of Avianca” he read the document, adding that the Acdac “already adds to the plans and actions that Mr. Van der Werff will lead to ensure the viability and stability of the company. ”