BOGOTA, Colombia, April 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Avianca Holdings S.A. (NYSE: AVH, BVC: PFAVH) today announced that Hernán Rincón Lema has notified the Avianca Holdings Board of Directors that he plans to retire from the Company effective April 30, 2019 after three years serving as the Company's Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Rincón's announcement, which was made upon completion of his third year as Avianca's CEO, is aligned with the Company's ongoing long-term strategic and organizational development program, as part of a planned transition. Mr. Rincón joined Avianca to lead the Company's transformation process, which he has successfully accomplished, contributing to Avianca Holdings strategic evolution and positioning the Company for continued success for the next century ahead.
"We thank Hernán for his numerous important contributions to Avianca Holdings over the past three years, notably leading Avianca's successful joint venture agreement with United Airlines, which was transformational for the Company," German Efromovich, Avianca's Chairman of the Board. "Hernán is interested in pursuing other strategic opportunities, having successfully ushered Avianca into its next phase. While we will miss him, we support his ambitions as part of our planned transition."
"I'm proud to have contributed to the strategic evolution of Avianca Holdings over the last three years," said Mr. Rincón. "Avianca's successful long-term strategic commercial alliance with United Airlines and the modernized and technology-focused strategy we have in place cements Avianca's leadership position as a world-class international airline, and sets the stage for its success in years to come."
With extensive experience working with multinational software and technology companies, Mr. Rincón led Avianca's digital transformation; successfully positioning Avianca as a world-class international company. Under his direction, an ambitious corporate reorganization process and a strengthening of the Company's Corporate Governance was also successfully executed. Further, the Avianca brand has been consolidated globally; the Company signed a transformational strategic and commercial alliance with United Airlines and with Copa Airlines; Avianca's Regional Express Americas regional airline startup carrier was created to strengthen Colombia's connectivity; and in 2017 the Company weathered the longest illegal pilot strike in the history of commercial aviation.
During the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, Mr. Rincón executed the most ambitious business transformation plan in the Company's history, enabling Avianca to evolve from a growth model to an operating model focused on profitability and cost efficiency, with a goal of deleveraging and strengthening the Company's financial position to deliver margin expansion.
As part of this plan, Avianca successfully simplified and streamlined its aircraft fleet as part of its six-pillar restructuring plan; phasing out its Embraer aircraft and transferring its turboprop aircraft to more profitable routes on Regional Express Americas and optimizing network profitability. Further, Avianca successfully renegotiated and sold its non-strategic assets, as well as the cancellation and deferral of a portion of the current A320 family order with Airbus.
Pursuant to our bylaws and Amended & Restated Joint Action Agreement, we have already retained a third-party international consulting firm to assist us in searching for a successor for Mr. Rincón. Our board of directors has resolved that, if a successor Chief Executive Officer is not appointed prior to the departure of Mr. Rincón, our Secretary Mr. Renato Covelo, who has been acting as Legal Vice President and General Counsel since December 2016, shall become our interim Chief Executive Officer until a successor has been appointed. In the meantime, Mr. Richard Galindo, who has been acting as Legal Director since February 2017 will become our interim Secretary.