March 15, 2019 / 10:39 PM / 11 days ago

Colombia's Avianca cancels 17 Airbus plane orders, delays 35 deliveries

FILE PHOTO - Hernan Rincon, executive president and CEO of AVIANCA Holdings S.A., speaks during a new aircraft presentation ceremony at Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Colombian airline Avianca Holdings canceled an order of 17 Airbus A320 Neo aircraft and delayed deliveries on 35 others, according to a securities filing on Friday.

Avianca said this would reduce its financial commitments between 2020 and 2022 by $2.6 billion. The Colombian carrier has shifted its strategy to focus on profitability from growth.

The airline is following in the footstep of regional rival LATAM Airlines, which in recent months has said it was reducing future fleet commitments by $2.2 billion.

Avianca, United Continental Holdings Inc and Panama’s Copa Holdings announced late last year that they would form an alliance to try to expand their reach in the Latin American market, excluding Brazil.

Avianca is separate from Avianca Brasil, a struggling carrier that filed for bankruptcy in December, although they share owners. Up until last month, the two airlines had been carrying out due diligence for a potential merger, but that process has been suspended.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Christian Plumb and Grant McCool

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