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Ryan's Irelandia backs Colombian low-cost hotel franchise Ayenda



Viva Air chief executive Felix Antelo

Viva Air chief executive Felix Antelo

Viva Air chief executive Felix Antelo

Declan Ryan's Irelandia Aviation has emerged as one of a number of investors in Ayenda, a Colombian budget hotel franchise.

Established in 2015, Ayenda, which has raised $8.7m (€7.9m) to finance expansion into Peru, has a cross-marketing deal with multi-millionaire Ryanair co-founder Ryan's low-cost airline Viva Air, which flies on 35 routes between Miami, Colombia and Peru.

"With a broad supply of hotels with the best cost-benefit relationship, guests can travel more frequently, accelerating the economy," Ryan told local reporters.

A number of other investors took part in the Series A funding round, including Latin American VC Kaszek Ventures, Altabix - the venture arm of Mexican hotel group City Express - and US VC firms Kairos and BWG Ventures.

The firm already has 150 hotels offering 4,500 rooms in Colombia, and is targeting one million guests this year, making it the country's largest hotel chain, according to some reports. Rates are around $20 a night.

"We seek to invest in companies that are redefining the big industries and we found Ayenda's team is changing the hotels industry in an unprecedented way for the region," said Nicolas Berman, Kaszek Ventures partner.

This week, it also emerged that Ryan's Viva Air is rewarding employees with a 2pc stake in the airline for their efforts in helping it achieve significant milestones over the past eight years.

"The majority shareholders of the group are aware of the effort and dedication that each of our colleagues makes to improve the competitiveness of the airline and the airline industry in Latin America, so they decided that the best way to reward them is by giving each of them a small Viva Air stake. We want our people to be part of our success," said CEO Felix Antelo.

The award depends on an initial public offering (IPO) being successfully executed and certain criteria at the discretion of Irelandia Aviation and Viva Air being met, a statement said.

"Irelandia expects an IPO to take place in the medium term," Antelo added. Reports last year said $100m of shares could be listed in New York, valuing the airline at perhaps $500m.

Whether that aim will be hit as the world struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus, which sent airline stocks plummeting in the past week, remains to be seen.

Sunday Indo Business