Cartagena Times News and Travel Guide

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Cartagena Times News and Travel Guide
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  Bankruptcy court to rule Feb on Avianca extension

Thu January 29, 2004 04:20 PM ET

BOGOTA, Colombia, Jan 29 (Reuters) - A U.S. bankruptcy judge postponed until Feb. 10 a decision on whether to grant Colombian airline Avianca another deadline extension -- this time until March 30 -- to present a restructuring plan, creditors said on Thursday.

If granted, the deadline extension would be Avianca's fifth.

Colombia's flagship carrier, struggling to keep itself in the air and a possible acquisition target by Continental Airlines (CAL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , had until Jan. 30 to present the plan. It requested the extension two weeks ago.

Last March, Avianca and its U.S. subsidiary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, hurt by high fuel costs and slack demand stemming from the political and economic crises in Venezuela and Argentina.

Avianca has a U.S. subsidiary, which allowed it to apply for Chapter 11 proceedings to try to renegotiate at least $269 million in debt while continuing to operate. The U.S. law is more generous with struggling debtor companies than Colombian legislation.

A source close to Avianca said earlier this week that Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , the No. 5 U.S. airline, is negotiating the possible purchase of the struggling airline. Continental declined comment

Editor Kayla Bello

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