The history of Colombia's Avianca Airlines could be considered as colorful as their red and white airplanes. Avianca was only the second airline ever to operate in the history of aviation, right after KLM of the Netherlands, and the first one to fly in the Americas.

Avianca started operating in 1919 with the Junkers F-13, which was the best plane available at the time. Over the following decades Colombia and the rest of the world went through dramatic changes, but Avianca kept on progressing along with modern aviation, expanding their routes to include all of South America, as well as Central America, the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico and parts of Europe. Avianca's fleet has included such types as the Boeing 727, Boeing 707, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, and Boeing 767 at various times. Nowadays, they have retired the 727's and 747's but they added the Fokker 50, MD-87, MD-88's to their fleet along with the rest of the Boeings.

As Colombia struggled to fight drug trafficking in the 1980s, Avianca also had trying times. The airline suffered a few accidents which were arranged by rival gangs whenever they knew that someone they wanted killed was on board an Avianca flight (See: Avianca Flight 410). It should be noted, however, that in the great majority of these accidents, Avianca was not to blame, as investigations almost always pointed to other causes and not the Avianca planes themselves.

After the death or arrest of various traffickers at the hands of Colombian police, Avianca has regained its status as one of the safest airlines in the world and is enjoying a strong and healthy run as one of Latin America's leading airline companies. It also owns SAM, another Colombian airline that is striving to succeed with the help of Avianca.

Avianca is a reliable airline that today has flights all over South America, the Caribbean, Mexico, the United States and Europe.

In December 2003, Avianca announced that a pilots' strike has costed the airline about $3 million dollars.