March 19, 2019 / 3:50 PM / 3 months ago

Avianca Brasil flights operating normally after court order -spokeswoman

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By Marcelo Rochabrun

SAO PAULO, March 19 (Reuters) - All Avianca Brasil flights were operating normally, a spokeswoman for the carrier said on Tuesday, a day after a Brazilian appeals judge lifted an order that allowed the carrier to operate 10 of its planes despite missed leasing payments.

She added that the decision, which could disrupt the airline’s ability to complete scheduled flights, would be appealed. The ruling, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, is the latest development in a bitter legal fight between lessors and the carrier, which is going through bankruptcy protection.

Avianca Brasil filed for bankruptcy protection in December after falling behind on lease payments for most of its fleet of more than 45 Airbus planes. Since then, it has obtained several court rulings that allowed it to hold onto the planes despite vigorous protests from its lessors.

The appellate judge said the carrier had failed to meet one of the conditions to keep the planes: That it resume and keep up with its regular monthly payments.

Rival airline Azul struck a tentative deal earlier this month to take over most of Avianca Brasil's jet leases and landing slots. That transaction could be formalized in a March 29 bankruptcy court auction. No other potential bidders have yet publicly come forward.

Lessor Aircastle Ltd filed the appeal. Avianca Brasil is its single biggest customer and operates 10 Airbus planes owned by Aircastle.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrún; Editing by Leslie Adler and Steve Orlofsky

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