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Avianca shares soar on report United, Delta may buy it

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Shares of the Avianca soared almost 24 per cent Friday after a published report listed United and Delta among the possible buyers of the Central American airline.

Avianca, based in Panama City, Panama, has 180 planes that fly to 105 destinations in 28 countries. Avianca sent letters to potential bidders, according to The Wall Street Journal , citing sources it did not identify, seeking capital of $500 million.

Avianca did not respond to a request for comment. Delta Air Lines Inc. declined to comment.

United Continental Holdings Inc. said it does not discuss rumours or speculation, but said it is always evaluating “opportunities to strengthen our relationships with partners that will enable us to provide better and more convenient services to our customers.”

The airline industry has consolidated rapidly in a bid to cut costs and control markets. United is still struggling to make its tie-up with Continental run smoothly.

Shares of Avianca Holdings SA rose $1.23, or 23.8 per cent, to $6.41 in afternoon trading Friday.