ACES Colombia

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(Aerolíneas Centrales de Colombia)
ACES logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedAugust 30, 1971
Ceased operationsOctober 24, 2003
Secondary hubsEl Dorado International Airport
Frequent-flyer programPremium Pass (ACES), Privilegios (Summa Alliance)
AllianceSumma Alliance
Fleet size25
Destinations43 (See Avianca)
Parent companyAvianca
HeadquartersMedellín, Colombia

ACES (Spanish acronym: Aerolíneas Centrales de Colombia) was an airline with its headquarters in the Edificio del Cafe in Medellín, Colombia[1] and founded on August 30, 1971, by a group of 13 Colombian entrepreneurs, amongst them, most notably Orlando Botero Escobar and German Peñaloza Arias from Manizales and Luis H. Coulson, Jorge Coulson R., Alberto Jaramillo and Hernán Zuluaga from Medellín.


Mr. Botero and Mr. Peñaloza, were considered pioneers in the early days of Colombian commercial aviation, had tried several times to establish a commuter service between Manizales and Bogotá. They managed to operate a small commuter airline by the name TARCA (acronym of Taxi Aéreo de Caldas), which was forced to shut down due to financial difficulties. With the support and capital of the new partners from Medellín, they embarked on the successful enterprise that would be ACES. The airline began service in 1972 with Saunders ST-27 aircraft for the routes Medellín-Bogotá and Manizales-Bogotá, and soon became a major player in the Colombian market. By 1976, the airline had expanded its network to smaller regional destinations, for which it purchased DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.

In 1981, it acquired its first Boeing 727-100. In 1986, an expansion began with the acquisition of more 727-100 and the arrival of Fairchild FH-227 aircraft built under license by Fairchild in the United States and with slight modifications. The 727s had a capacity of 129 passengers and the Fairchilds of 44. At this time the first international charter flights also began to Havana, Varadero, Nassau, Freeport, Montego Bay, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Porlamar and Cancun.

In 1991, ACES completely replaced its Fokker F27 Friendship fleet with ATR 42 turbo-prop aircraft for its short-haul regional routes, and its Boeing 727-100 with the Boeing 727-200 Advanced variant. In 1992, ACES expanded its service internationally, operating flights from Medellín and Bogotá to Miami. Soon after, Juan Emilio Posada was appointed CEO and would serve until the airline's demise in 2003. In the late 1997, ACES modernized its fleet acquiring brand-new Airbus A320-200 aircraft that replaced its Boeing 727s. It expanded its routes to Fort Lauderdale, Quito, Caracas, Cancún (served by charters), Santo Domingo, Punta Cana and San Juan, Puerto Rico; as well as additional domestic flights within Colombia.

ACES created a corporate culture of service and punctuality that would earn it the recognition and loyalty of its customers, resulting in consistent increases in its market share and revenues in the domestic market, which was dominated for decades by Avianca. It was named the "Best airline in Colombia" by several industry and consumer publications.

On May 20, 2002, ACES merged with major competitor Avianca and SAM to form the Alianza Summa, a strategic alliance aimed at joining forces to counteract the adverse circumstances that faced the airline industry in Colombia and the world after the September 11 attacks. ACES' operations were halted on August 20, 2003, after the board's decision to liquidate the airline.[2] ACES ceased operations on October 24, 2003 after liquidating. By November 2003, the Summa Alliance was dissolved and ACES' routes taken over by Avianca.


An ACES Airbus A320-200 taxiing at Miami International Airport in 2001

Final fleet[edit]

Since August 2003, ACES Colombia had only been using these aircraft:

ACES fleet
Aircraft in
Orders Passengers Notes
Airbus A320-200 8 8 150
ATR 42-320 10 46
ATR 42-500 6 1 50
Boeing 727-200 1 128
Total 25 9

Former fleet[edit]

ACES Colombia had in the past operated a variety of aircraft, including:[3]

ACES former fleet
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Boeing 727-100 12 1981 2000
Cessna 185 1 Un­known Un­known
De Havilland DH.114 Heron 1 1974 1978
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 20 1976 2001
Fairchild FH-227 1 1977 1981
Fokker F27 Friendship 3 1987 1992
Fokker F28 Fellowship 1 1984 1984 Leased from Aerolíneas Argentinas
Saunders ST-27 3 1972 1976

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On December 18, 1981, a DHC-6 Twin Otter (registered HK-2216) crashed in the municipality of San Antero, during the approach to the Coveñas Airport. In this incident 13 people perished, including the crew composed of Captain Guillermo Alberto García and co-pilot Andrés Rafael Londoño.
  • On November 29, 1982, a DHC-6 Twin Otter (registered HK-2536) crashed in the foothills of the Eastern Cordillera against Cerro Pan de Azúcar in the township of San Juanito, Meta. The flight came on a regular flight from San José del Guaviare and was heading to Bogotá under the command of Captain Marino Jiménez and co-pilot Ricardo Santacoloma, who along with 20 passengers lost their lives.[4]
  • On August 1, 1988, a DHC-6 Twin Otter (registered HK-2445) was hijacked and demanded the pilot to land at an abandoned airstrip in Colombia. The passengers were reportedly robbed and the hijackers escaped, which six of them were later captured.[5]
  • On November 30, 1996, a DHC-6 Twin Otter, operating flight 148, (registered HK-2602) crashed into Cerro El Barcino a few minutes after takeoff from Olaya Herrera Airport. The flight was operating the route between Medellin, Bahía Solano and Quibdó. 14 people died in the impact and subsequent fire, including the crew commanded by Captain Juan Carlos Bermúdez López; one passenger survived with serious injuries.[6][7]
  • On October 11, 2000, an ATR 42-500 (registered VP-BOF) and a Boeing 727-200 (registered HK-3998X) collided on the El Dorado International Airport apron during the towing process. The ATR 42-500 was declared a total loss after the incident. There were no injuries or fatalities in this event.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 17–23, 1999. 40. "Calle 49, No 50-21, Piso 34, Edificio del Cafe, Medellin, Antioquia, AA 6503, Colombia"
  2. ^ "ACES Colombia Fleet of ATR (History) | Airfleets aviation". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  3. ^ "ACES fleet". Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  4. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "Hijacking description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  6. ^ "Official report of the Civil Aeronautics of Colombia of the HK-2602" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2021-02-20.
  7. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved October 5, 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°26′34″N 6°04′09″W / 43.44278°N 6.06917°W / 43.44278; -6.06917