Viva Air, a budget Colombian airline, has caused major chaos and confusion in Colombian airports after canceling all flights and then announcing it was suspending all operations.
Thousands of passengers were left stranded at airports across the country when the airline announced it was canceling all international and local flights on Feb. 28th.
A day later, the airline announced it will shut down temporarily after 11 years in operation.
Viva Air had undergone financial struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising fuel costs, according to Reuters.
The low-cost airline had sought a merger with one of Colombia’s biggest low-cost airline, Avianca.
However, Viva Air said in a statement that it was unable to proceed with the process after it failed to receive a response from the civil aviation authority, which is in charge of granting merger approvals, and was forced to shut down.
“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 statement read.
The airline shutdown is expected to affect more than 5,000 employees.
Videos on social media showed unrest at Colombian airports as passengers were unable to reach their destination and missed international connections.
On social media, one passenger said that the airline had first announced a flight delay due to mechanical issues.
“Are they playing with us?” the woman said on the video.
Passengers have said Viva Air has not helped them in obtaining new tickets.
Meanwhile, other airlines have reportedly helped passengers booked new flights without additional costs.
The situation was so bad Colombian president Gustavo Petro even mobilized presidential airplanes to help passengers stranded in the San Andres Island.
He has also ordered government-owned airline SATENA “to mobilize thousands of users affected by the suspension of Viva flights”.
The ministry of transportation has launched an investigation into Viva Air, which has been accused of failing to properly inform customers and even selling tickets after declaring a suspension of operations.