Friday, December 19, 2014

Former Argentine Air Force 707-387B, TC-91, Painted in Lufthansa Colors for Movie

Former Fuerza Aerea Argentina 707-387B, TC-91 (c/n 21070/897) was recently painted in 1970's Lufthansa colors for filming of the movie "Colonia Dignidad" starring English actress Emma Watson.  The movie is based on events surrounding the 1973 Chilean military coup.  The aircraft was painted at El Palomar Air Force Base where some of the filming has taken place.       

TC-91 was delivered to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina on 11Jun75 where it flew for the Argentine Presidential Flight as T-01 until it was converted to a -387C configuration in June 1977 and joined the regular Fuerza Aerea Argentina fleet of 707's.  The aircraft went on to serve with Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE) from 1996 until 2005/2006 when it operated some of the last 707 passenger services worldwide.  TC-91 has reportedly been at El Palomar ever since.

Photo of TC-91 in Lufthansa colors:


Monday, December 15, 2014

ROUTE UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas presents 2015 Route Additions

Aerolineas Argentinas recently announced its 2015 route changes including several new international flights and a lot of new service connecting "interior" points of Argentina directly to each other without having to fly though Buenos Aires.  

Much of the new domestic service overlaps with routes that until recently were flown by SOL Lineas Aereas with their Saab 340's. 

New service includes:


Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Salvador de Bahia (SSA):   

Eff 02Jan15 with 6x/weekly flights increasing to daily on 01Mar15 using 737-800's

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Quito (UIO) & Guayaquil (GYE)

Effective in April using 737-800's (?)

The above services are in addition to the new flights to Havana (HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ) and additional flights to Cancun (CUN) all effective in January 2015 for the Argentine summer vacation periods as announced in a previous posting.


* Cordoba (COR) - El Calafate (FTE):

3x/weekly using 737-700's from 01Jan15 - 28Feb15 (seasonal service)

* Rosario (ROS) - Bariloche (BRC):

3x/weekly using Embraer 190's from 01Jan15  - 28Feb15 (seasonal service)
Rosario (ROS) - El Calafate (FTE)

6x/weekly 737-700's eff 02Mar15

* Cordoba (COR) - Tucuman (TUC)

2x/weekly 737-700, 1x/weekly Embraer 190 eff 03Mar15

Rio Gallegos (RGL) - Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD)

1x/daily 737-800 eff 01Jul15  

* Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Bahia Blanca (BHI)
* Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - San Luis(LUQ)
Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Santiago del Estero (SDE)

All of the above routes will see one additional daily flight effective in July. 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

FLEET UPDATE: LAN Argentina takes delivery of its 12th A320-233, LV-FUX

LAN Argentina took delivery of its 12th A320-233, LV-FUX (c/n 4543) from parent company LAN Airlines on 29Oct14.  The A320 was first delivered to LAN on 15Jan11 and also flew for LAN Ecuador prior to its recent transfer to LAN Argentina.

LV-FUX will replace another LAN Argentina A320 while it is undergoing heavy maintenance so its stay in Argentina might be short-lived once the aircraft being worked on is returned to service.  In recent times, the Argentine government has not allowed LAN Argentina to bring in any more aircraft, even on a temporary basis to replace those undergoing maintenance but this policy has apparently been relaxed.     


Thursday, December 11, 2014

ROUTE UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas adding Seasonal Flights to Cancun (CUN), Havana ((HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ)

Aerolineas Argentinas will add seasonal flights from Buenos Aires Ezeiza to Cancun (CUN), Havana (HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ) in January using 737-800's serving the Argentine summer vacation market.  Aerolineas already serves Cancun (CUN) with 2x/weekly A340 flights. 

The flights will make a technical stop in Caracas (CCS) for refueling with no local traffic rights between Venezuela and the final destinations.  Even so, it has been written that the flights will be weight-restricted to 145 passengers (out of a total of 170 seats) to conserve fuel due to the long stage length between Buenos Aires and Caracas. This is a little surprising to the editor of this blog given that COPA flies 737-700/800 between Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and Panama City (PTY), a similar distance to the Aerolineas' Caribbean routes, without any weight restrictions as far as the editor knows. 

Initially, it was rumored that the flights would stop in Manaus (MAO), probably enabling the 737-800's to operate without load restrictions (because it is closer to Buenos Aires), but this was apparently changed to Caracas because the Venezuelan government owes billions of US$ to foreign airlines for tickets that they have sold in the country, including Aerolineas Argentinas, and this is an alternative way of "paying back" the airline with fuel credits.     

These routes are designed to gain market share from COPA and LAN, both of which have been successful in the Argentina - Caribbean summer travel market.

Aviacion News reports that Aerolineas is apparently using the 737-800 in these markets, despite their range limitations, because it has taken delivery of several -800's lately with a limited number of viable destinations to operate them to due to the Argentine economy being in a mild recession.      

The 737-800 flights will operate as follows:

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Caracas (CCS) - Cancun (CUN), 2x/weekly, effective 05Jan15, Mon & Fri    

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Caracas (CCS) - Havana (HAV), 2x/weekly, effective 04Jan15, Wed & Sun  

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Caracas (CCS) - Punta Cana (PUJ), 3x/weekly, effective 03Jan15, Tue, Thu & Sat  

Sources: via Eric Trum via Eric Trum

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SOL Lineas Aereas Cuts Back Service & Disposes of One Saab 340A

SOL Lineas Aereas Saab 340A (c/n 131) left the fleet in August 2014 to Sky Bahamas. Here it is seen at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 20Sep10.  (Phil Perry Photo)

SOL Lineas Aereas has cut back service significantly in 2014, including the elimination of flights to cities in the Patagonia region of southern Argentina, such as Bariloche (BRC), Esquel (EQS), and Ushuaia (USH) in May and the "Corredor Petrolero" (Oil Route) linking Cordoba (COR), Mendoza (MDZ) and Neuquen (NQN) in July.  Some of these airports had been served by SOL since 2010 but increased competition from Aerolineas Argentinas and sister carrier Austral that have introduced their own "circle" routes connecting "interior" points of Argentina using the Embraer 190 have had their impact on SOL.       

On May 15, the airline cut the last two points of its "Atlantic Coast" route extending from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Mar del Plata (MDQ), Bahia Blanca (BHI), Trelew (REL), Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD), Rio Gallegos (RGL) and Rio Grande (RGA), the latter point located in the southernmost region of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego.  Trelew and Comodoro Rivadavia, both located in the province of Chubut, were set to be cut on November 1 too, but the governor of Chubut agreed to extend the fuel subsidy to SOL that was set to expire on that date.

SOL's primary routes linking Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), Rosario (ROS), Santa Fe (SFN) and Mar del Plata (MDQ) are being retained with seasonal service to Villa Gesell (VLG) and from Rosario (ROS) to Punta del Este (PDP) also planned.  

Contrary to the service reductions, SOL reintroduced service to San Luis (LUQ) on November 1, 6x/weekly with flights to Villa Mercedes (VME) and Villa de Merlo also likely. All three airports are in the province of San Luis in central Argentina.

The service cutbacks have led to the layoffs of 19 pilots and the disposal of one of its Saab 340A's, LV-BTP (c/n 131), which left the fleet to Sky Bahamas in August 2014.  SOL currently has the following Saab 340's in its fleet:

LV-CEI  (c/n 12) 340A 
LV-BEW (c/n 150) 340A
LV-CSK (c/n 168) 340B
LV-CYC (c/n 310) 340B


Sunday, December 7, 2014

BQB Lineas Aereas Cutting Back Services, Laying Off Workers & Reducing Fleet

BQB Lineas Aereas, which as recently as the first half of 2014 was planning to increase service, has cancelled expansion plans and sharply reduced existing services.

The airline, based in Montevideo (MVD), was flying a leased A320 followed by a leased A319 to Santiago (SCL), Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) earlier this year but now has canceled these routes and apparently returned the A319 to the lessor.  In addition, BQB has sold two of its four ATR-72-500's though the editor of this blog has not been able to confirm which ones. 55 staff have been laid off (made redundant) and all Brazilian routes canceled including Porto Alegre (POA) and Curitiba (CWB). 

The airline is currently only flying the services that it started out with, such as its most important route, Montevideo (MVD) to Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) plus Montevideo (MVD) to Asuncion (ASU) and domestic flights to Rivera (RVY) and Salto (STY).  

BQB claims that the reductions are not as a result of financial difficulties but are necessary measures to adjust to changes in the marketplace.  However, IATA (International Air Transport Association) suspended the airline for a time in August from its ticket clearinghouse whereby funds collected by airlines on behalf of other carriers on common tickets are redistributed to the operating carrier.  This would suggest that BQB was retaining funds that it should have forwarded to IATA.  This situation appears to have since been resolved but the editor of this blog has no confirmation of that. 

Separately, the Uruguayan Civil Aviation Direcorate (DINACIA) is investigating a tail-strike incident involving a BQB ATR-72-500 in Salto (STY) on 09Dec11 that went unreported. 



Friday, December 5, 2014

FLEET UPDATE: Seven former PLUNA CRJ-900's Sale Details finalized, Aircraft to leave Uruguay in coming months

The seven former company-owned PLUNA CRJ-900's that have been parked at Montevideo (MVD) since the July 2012 shutdown of the defunct Uruguayan national airline have reportedly been definitively sold to Strategic Air Finance of Florida who will pass them along to Nordic Aviation Capital of Denmark.

The aircraft sale was agreed to on a provisional basis between the bankruptcy liquidators and Strategic Air Finance in July for US$ 77 million for all seven airframes subject to inspection of the planes.  Reviewing the CRJ-900's, two were found to have defects requiring maintenance and / or repair but more significantly, nine of the fourteen engines on the planes will need work before they can be put back in service.  To compensate for the costs involved, the sale price of the planes has been reduced by US$ 6.3 million to US$ 70.7 million.

Each aircraft will be paid for and delivered one at a time so it appears that the aircraft sale price may still vary if any new defects are found when the maintenance staff start working on them. The CRJ-900's will likely start leaving Montevideo (MVD) sometime in the next few weeks with all of them likely gone by early 2015.

Nordic Aviation Capital will presumably lease the CRJ-900's to airlines worldwide. 

The seven aircraft are:

CX-CRA (c/n 15165)
CX-CRB (c/n 15169)
CX-CRC (c/n 15175)
CX-CRD (c/n 15180)
CX-CRE (c/n 15185)
CX-CRF (c/n 15204)
CX-CRG (c/n 15209)