Avianca Holdings is in talks with its respective regional partners over the proposed divestiture of select Central American carriers.

Executive Vice President Gerardo Grajales said in a quarterly earnings call that Avianca had taken the decision to refocus itself on its most important core business units namely its loyalty and cargo operations which alone account for around 70% of the holdings' total revenue.

"Therefore, we are analyzing those partnerships in which we have either 50% participation and the partner runs the business, so the natural buyers will be those partners," he said.

"In those businesses, we have small airplanes original carriers flying Cessna (single turboprop) Caravans in Central America, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, for instance. So those are the type of investments we are planning now to divest. We’re talking to the partner, which is the natural buyer in those cases. And the plan is to try to complete those sales in the first quarter of 2019 basically."

Grajales did not expand on whether the affected airlines would continue to operate for Avianca albeit on a franchise basis or similar.

Avianca has an extensive portfolio of Central American carriers, acquired as part of its merger with TACA International Airlines. Among the carriers are Avianca Costa Rica (which operates one A320neo and one E190), Aviateca Guatemala (which operates three ATR72-600s), Isleña Airlines in Honduras (which operates two ATR72-600s), and La Costeña in Nicaragua (which operates two ATR42-320s). SANSA - Servicios Aéreos Nacionales in Costa Rica operates nine Cessna 208 Grand Caravan/Grand Caravan EX aircraft.

Avianca has already confirmed its withdrawal from the Honduran domestic market making Isleña Airlines a potential candidate for Avianca's divestiture drive. Earlier this month, airline sources told La Tribuna newspaper that the carrier's Avions de Transport Régional turboprops are destined to be leased out to Avianca Argentina. Isleña did not respond to a ch-aviation request for comment.

For its part, Avianca's own Colombian regional carrier, Regional Express Americas, is expected to now launch in mid-2019 with a fleet of ten ATR72-600s.