The aviation industry can be difficult for airlines to survive since many carriers operate with razor-thin profit margins in a delicate balance between operating loss and operative revenue. The results can be disastrous when this balance between operating costs and revenue (profit/income) is disturbed. The latest airline to experience this problem is the Brazilian low-cost carrier GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL). The 22-year-old airline is reportedly considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In the third quarter of 2023, GOL recorded a record loss of 1.3 billion Brazilian reals ($263 million) despite a record income. Mario Liao, GOL's Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, has stated that the airline's recent record losses are due to "...volatile fuel costs that negated the benefits seen in previous quarters..." This, he stipulates, will create a "...more challenging scenario..." for the company in the future.
The airline's official statement states the following:
"GOL is in discussions with our financial stakeholders about several options to increase our financial flexibility, including raising significantly additional capital to fund GOL's business operations."
Since December 1, GOL has been seeking financial consultancy and advice from Seabury Capital to assist in managing the airline's assets and to help the airline successfully restructure to avoid bankruptcy. The airline may downsize, getting rid of some of its older and less fuel-efficient models, and certain less profitable routes may be shut down.
GOL is a member of the Abra Group, the holding owner of Avianca, one of South America's largest airlines. The group was created in May 2022 as a joint partnership between GOL and Avianca. However, unlike an alliance where airlines have a higher degree of obligation towards each other to provide financial aid, Avianca does not have to give GOL financial advice or help. As the airline has, it is keeping its distance.
An Avianca spokesperson said:
“...Avianca is not going through the GOL situation and has nothing to do with that situation. Both companies are autonomous and have their separate administrations, brands, and aircraft...”
GOL currently has a fleet comprising 141 Boeing 737NG and MAX-type aircraft. The airline operates 16 Boeing 737-700s, -800s, and four 737-MAX 8s. The airline's order roster currently has 86 un-delivered orders for the Boeing 737 MAX-8 and MAX-10 aircraft.
South American airlines are currently experiencing a multitude of operational issues. Avianca itself emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2021.
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