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Avianca El Salvador

Avianca El Salvador

Transportes Aéreos del Continente Americano, S.A. (Spanish for "Air Transports of the American Continent", known and branded formerly as TACA International Airlines), operating as Avianca El Salvador, is an airline owned by Kingsland Holdings and based in San Salvador, El Salvador. It is one of the seven national branded airlines in the Avianca Group of Latin American airlines, and it serves as the flag carrier of El Salvador.

Founded in 1931, the airline owned and operated five other airlines in Central America. Its name was originally an acronym meaning Central American Air Transports (Transportes Aéreos Centroamericanos) but was later changed to Air Transport of the American Continent (Transportes Aéreos del Continente Americano) to reflect its expansion to North, Central, and South America.

On 7 October 2009, the airline announced that it would merge with the Colombian airline Avianca, however, it maintained the TACA name until the merger was officially completed on 21 May 2013. TACA is the second-oldest continuously operating airline brand in Central America and the Caribbean, after Cubana de Aviación.


Inauguration (1931–1980)

TACA International Airlines, then named Central American Air Transports, was founded in 1931 in Honduras by New Zealander Royal Flying Corps veteran Lowell Yerex. Initially, the airline only transported cargo, but beginning in 1940, the airline also began passenger services. TACA began operations with a single-engine Stinson plane. Since its beginnings, routes covered all the national territory and its aircraft sported the XH Mexican registration (which was changed later by HR). The idea of its founder was to establish one airline in each Latin-American country, such as Aerovias Brasil in Brazil and other TACAs in Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia. Out of all the TACA franchise airlines created, only TACA International of El Salvador survived.

As a consequence in 1945, Yerex left the company and TACA moved its headquarters to the Republic of El Salvador where it was modernized and expanded, the company then established investment groups in other Latin American countries to be sold to domestic airlines, which in the case of TACA Honduras was sold to SAHSA. Later, TACA was organized as an international company having its headquarters in San Salvador only under the name of TACA International.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the airline began to acquire larger piston-engine airliners including the Douglas DC-3 and the Douglas DC-4. The Vickers Viscount turboprop passenger airliner followed in order to expand its route network around the Americas.

On 28 December 1966, TACA International entered the jet age when it inaugurated its first jet, a BAC One Eleven. The aircraft model was used until 1 June 1988, when it was phased out in favor of the Boeing 737-200. The Lockheed L-188 Electra four-engine turboprop airliner was operated from 1976 by TACA Air Cargo including freight flights to Miami, Florida.

Expansion years (1980–2009)

Until 1980, TACA was owned by a United States company and had its corporate headquarters in New Orleans (due to the civil war raging in El Salvador) under the administration of the Kriete Family of El Salvador, who owned a minority stock and ended up buying all the shares.

According to the July 1983 TACA route map, the air carrier was operating jet service to four destinations in the U.S. from Central America (including Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans). The airline also made several upgrades to its fleet during the 1980s by replacing the older turboprops as well as BAC One Eleven jetliners with more efficient aircraft, such as the Boeing 737-200 Advanced and 737-300 with the latter type being a member of the Boeing 737 Classic series. TACA later operated wide body Boeing 767s on its scheduled passenger services including international flights to Los Angeles and Miami.

Between 1990 and 1995, TACA bought the majority shares of the flag carrier airlines; Aviateca, LACSA, and Nicaragüense de Aviación, consolidating operations under a new brand group name, Grupo TACA.

In the 1990s, TACA International became the launch customer and principal user of Latin America's Airbus A320. These aircraft were substituting for the aging Boeing 737-200 and the 737-300/-400 series aircraft that were on the fleet, which were gradually retired until 1999.

In 1992, TACA signed a strategic alliance with Panama-based Copa Airlines, and the airline began flying to Tocumen International Airport, making it the first flight connection center in Latin America. As a consequence, Tocumen airport became the "Hub of the Americas" and the integration of several Latin American airlines into the alliance took place. The alliance ended in 1998 after the six-year period established in the agreement expired.

On 9 August 1995, Aviateca Flight 901 crashed into the San Vicente volcano while on approach to Comalapa International Airport killing all 65 people onboard the aircraft. The Salvadoran Civil Aviation Authority determined that the accident's probable cause was the flight crew's "lack of situational awareness in relation to the 7,159 foot obstruction [the San Vicente volcano]" and that the airline's crew resource management program was ineffective. As TACA International Airlines was Aviateca's parent company, both airlines faced lawsuits from 21 families of crash victims, however, all the lawsuits were settled out of court.

Then in 2001, having its main hubs in San Salvador and San Jose, the airline set an operations base in Lima, Peru, its first base in South America, causing as a consequence the founding of TACA Perú, of which TACA had 49% shares at. With this new addition, Grupo TACA began to offer a comprehensive network of routes throughout the Americas.

In 2005, TACA was one of the founding members of the Mexican airline Volaris. In the same year, TACA became the first airline in Latin America to operate the Airbus A321.

In 2008, the board of directors decided to revert to the original name, TACA International (since the consolidation of the acquired airlines was completed), and the airline's headquarters returned to San Salvador, El Salvador to a new building which was inaugurated shortly afterward. Also, it revealed a renovation in its corporate image. That same year, TACA became the second user of the Brazilian Embraer 190 in Latin America.

AviancaTACA and modernization (2009–12)

On 7 October 2009, it was announced that TACA International would merge its assets in a strategic alliance with Colombian flag carrier Avianca, in which case each will maintain its trademark and operations. Avianca and TACA International operated a combined fleet of 129 aircraft, serving over 100 destinations in several countries in America and Europe. In December 2009 approval for the merger was given by the Colombian Civil Aeronautical Agency. The merger of Colombia's Avianca and El Salvador-based TACA is the latest sign that consolidation in the Latin American airline sector is picking up.

In June 2011, AviancaTaca signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 51 A320 family aircraft, including 33 eco-efficient Airbus A320neos. This made it the largest order for the A320neo in Latin America.

Star Alliance (2010–12)

On 10 November 2010, Star Alliance announced that Avianca and TACA International were to become full members in mid-2012.

Completion of merger and final flight

Avianca and TACA completed their merger on 21 May 2013. The day prior, just before midnight, TACA International began to remove all its signs bearing the TACA logo from airports across the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The last flight with the TACA callsign took place on 20 May 2013. The flight was TACA Flight 566 from El Salvador International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. It departed San Salvador at 7:50 pm MST and landed in New York at 2:35 am EST. The flight landed two hours and thirty-five minutes after the official re-branding of the airlines; thus, the flight departed with the TACA callsign and landed with the Avianca callsign. The final official TACA flight to have the TACA callsign was TACA Flight 520 from San Salvador to Los Angeles. This flight departed at 7:20 p.m. MST and landed at 11:50 pm PDT. The first flight departing operated by Avianca El Salvador took place on 21 May 2013. The flight was then Avianca El Salvador Flight 561 from San Francisco to San Salvador. The flight departed at 1:25 a.m. PDT and landed at 7:55 a.m. MST. This was followed by Avianca El Salvador Flight 521 from Los Angeles to San Salvador. This flight departed at 1:30 a.m. PDT and landed at 7:30 a.m. MST.

Merger and controversy in Costa Rica (2012–13)

On 10 October 2012, it was reported in a press conference that the trade name TACA International would disappear from the public eye and the promotion and marketing strategies would be owned by Avianca, according to representatives of the group that controls the brand. AviancaTaca's CEO, Fabio Villegas, explained that the use of the single brand for the group would occur in the first half of 2013. Although the TACA trade name would disappear from the public eye, TACA will continue to operate but it will operate under the Avianca El Salvador brand and it will remain a full member of Star Alliance. Despite the TACA name being permanently retired, Avianca El Salvador continues to use the IACA and IACO identifiers "TA" and "TAI", along with the call sign "TACA" for flights.

On 18 May 2013, AviancaTaca Holding downgraded the Juan Santamaría International Airport hub in San José, Costa Rica to a base of operations as part of the post-merger restructuring. This included the discontinuation of more than five non-stop flights made by the airline to and from San Jose, including flights to all cities in the United States. As a consequence, more than 200 employees lost their jobs (equivalent to 20% of the workforce of the airline). This was controversial in Costa Rica and led to an extensive investigation by the civil aviation authorities of that country against the holding company.

In November 2022, Avianca painted one of its Airbus A320s (registration: N564AV) in TACA Airlines' 1990s livery.


Avianca El Salvador is headquartered at Avenida El Espino in Antiguo Cuscatlán, El Salvador. The airline's air operator's certificate is COA-002-TA. Avianca El Salvador uses the IATA airline designator "TA" and the ICAO airline designator "TAI".


The former airlines that made up Grupo TACA were:

  • TACA International
    • TACA Regional
  • Aviateca
    • Inter Regional - operated under Aviateca's code.
  • Isleña Airlines
  • Nicaragüense de Aviación
  • TACA Perú

The airline's hubs before the Avianca merger were:

  • Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru
  • Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, Costa Rica ended in May 2013


Avianca El Salvador serves destinations throughout North and South America.

Codeshare agreements

The airline has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

  • Avianca
  • Iberia
  • United Airlines


Current fleet

As of October 2023, Avianca El Salvador operates the following aircraft:

Former fleet

TACA International operated the following aircraft:

Reciprocal frequent-flyer agreements

LifeMiles is the frequent-flyer program of Avianca and TACA International as of 2009, because of the merger with Avianca. It replaced the old "Distancia" program.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 3 June 1945, a Douglas DC-3 (registered YS-22) owned by TACA and operated by Aerovias Brasil made an emergency landing on the Rede Mineira de Viação and caught fire. All 4 crew members survived.
  • On 17 March 1947, a Lockheed C-60 Lodestar (registered YS-28) crashed into the Cerro del Padre Amaya mountain range in Colombia, killing all 8 occupants.
  • On 5 March 1959, a Vickers Viscount (registered YS-09C) crashed shortly after take-off from Managua International Airport at Managua, Nicaragua when both port engines failed. 15 of the 19 people on board were killed.
  • On 2 May 1976, a Douglas DC-6 (registered YS-35C) undershot the runway on approach to the Rubelsanto Airport in Guatemala. No crew members were killed.
  • On 2 February 1980, a Lockheed L-188 Electra (registered YS-07C) caught fire while on the ground in San Salvador, damaging the aircraft beyond repair.
  • On 24 May 1988, TACA Flight 110, a Boeing 737-300 (registered N75356) operating to New Orleans, suffered a double engine flame-out due to water ingestion, a result of an in-flight encounter with an area of hefty rain and hail. The design of the engines and FAA water ingestion certification standards did not take into account the higher water volume of strong or severe thunderstorms while operating at lower power. The plane landed without further damage on a grass levee at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility. All 45 passengers were uninjured.
  • On 20 July 1988, a Douglas DC-6 (registered N33VX) lost power on three of its four engines due to fuel starvation. The aircraft attempted an emergency landing, but the wing hit the ground upon landing at Golden Meadow, Louisiana, destroying the aircraft. All 3 crew members were killed.
  • On 5 April 1993, TACA Flight 510, a Boeing 767-200 (registered N767TA), overran the runway at Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport due to an inability to brake on the flooded runway.
  • On 24 April 1995, a Cessna Citation I (registered N120ES) undershot the runway on approach to the Comalapa International Airport in San Salvador, colliding with trees 2,500 feet short of the runway. Both crew members survived.
  • On 30 May 2008, TACA Flight 390, an Airbus A320-200 (registered EI-TAF), overran a rain-soaked runway on landing at Toncontín International Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. There were 5 fatalities, 2 of which were on the ground.

See also

  • List of airlines of El Salvador


External links

  • Official website
    • TACA ( at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
    • TACA ( at the Wayback Machine (archive index)

Text submitted to CC-BY-SA license. Source: Avianca El Salvador by Wikipedia (Historical)