Monday, May 23, 2016

ROUTE UPDATE: Air Europa to replace the A330 with the 787-8 between Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and Madrid (MAD), effective 10Jan17

Air Europa will replace its daily A330-200 service between Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and Madrid (MAD) with the 787-8, effective 10Jan17.   

Air Europa will become the seventh carrier to operate the 787 from Ezeiza so far, joining the current service of AeroMexico to Mexico City (MEX), AVIANCA to Bogota (BOG), and United to Houston Intercontinental (IAH), all using the 787-8, and the future service of Air New Zealand's 787-9's to Auckland (AKL), effective 30Oct16.  American and LAN have both also flown the 787 from Ezeiza, to Dallas Ft. Worth (DFW) and Santiago (SCL), respectively, using the -8 model. 

Source: via Eric Trum

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sol Lineas Aereas - The Final Months - Part 1 of 3 - Three CRJ-200's Delivered

Sol Lineas Aereas CRJ-200ER, LV-GII (c/n 7975), takes off runway 31 at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 02Jan16, less than two weeks before the carrier shut down. (Phil Perry Photo) 

This blog's last posting on Sol Lineas Aereas was in late September 2015 when the airline was seemingly embarking on an exciting new era of expansion and jet service but, sadly, only a little over three months later, Sol, was shut down by its ownership on 15Jan16.

Three CRJ-200's delivered (of six that were planned)

Sol took delivery of its first CRJ-200ER, registered EC-IVH (c/n 7915), from Air Nostrum on 20Sep15.  Surprisingly, the aircraft was not painted in the blue and orange colors of Sol, but in a scheme almost identical to that of Aerolineas Argentinas' sister carrier Austral Lineas Aereas, with the exception of a different tail logo and Sol titles instead of Austral.  This livery reflected that Sol was to assume the role of a regional carrier covering low-density routes for Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral and feeding the two carriers' flights at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and potentially other cities.  

The resemblance was not lost on Austral's pilot's union, UALA, long a rival of Aerolineas pilots' union, that interpreted the similarity of schemes as an indication that Sol might take over much of the Argentine domestic flying done by Austral's E190's.  Strong objections and tensions between UALA and Aerolineas / Austral management ensued.        

The aircraft was re-registered as LV-GIH and, after some training and route trials, it entered service on 19Oct15 on "El Corredor Petrolero" (The Oil Corridor) flying from Rosario (ROS) - Cordoba (COR) - Neuquen (NQN) - Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD) and back, so named because much of the passenger traffic going to the latter two cities is oil-related business travel.  Flight crews were said to be a mix of Argentine and Spanish nationals. 

Two more CRJ-200ER's were delivered by Air Nostrum to Sol, EC-JCL (c/n 7975), which was re-registered as LV-GII, in late October and EC-HSH (c/n 7466), later becoming LV-GIJ, in December.  Both aircraft were also painted in the Austral-style scheme. 

CRJ-200 Routes

In addition to "The Oil Corridor", Sol planned to fly at least the following routes (and apparently started some prior to shutdown):

* Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Mar del Plata (MDQ) - Bahia Blanca (BHI) - Trelew (REL) - Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD) along the Atlantic seaboard and appropriately known as "El Corredor Atlantico".

Summer seasonal services:

* Rosario (ROS) - Mar del Plata (MDQ)

* Rosario (ROS) - Punta del Este (PDP)

* Cordoba (COR) - Punta del Este (PDP)

* Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Villa Gesell (VLG)   

Air Nostrum buys Shareholding of Sol

In addition to the agreement with Aerolineas, a key factor in Sol's new undertaking was the participation of the Spanish regional carrier, Air Nostrum, which was granted a 45% (some say 49%) share of Sol in exchange for the six CRJ-200's that the carrier was due to give Sol, plus corresponding training, maintenance and spares support.

Air Nostrum was establishing a new business unit, Air Nostrum Technics Americas, based in Paraguay to provide maintenance and spares support to operators of Bombardier, ATR, and CASA aircraft in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.  Amaszonas of Bolivia and Amaszonas Paraguay are customers and Sol was to be one too.  In addition, the existence of this new business venture created an outlet for Air Nostrum to dispose of its CRJ-200 fleet, which was redundant to its needs.     


Thursday, May 19, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas takes delivery of 737-8HX, LV-GGQ (c/n 42155 / 5907), its 23rd 737-800

Aerolineas Argentinas took delivery of a new aircraft, 737-8HX, LV-GGQ (c/n 42155 / 5907), when it flew from Boeing Field (BFI) to Caracas (CCS) on 18May16 and overnighted before continuing to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) today 19May16.  

With this aircraft, Aerolineas now has 23 737-800's complemented by 18 737-700's, which are in the process of being retired and replaced by even more -800's.  Aerolineas is due to receive the first of an order of 20 company-owned 737-387's (nearly all of its current 737-800's are leased from seven different leasing companies) bearing the airline's customer number "87". 

Seven of these are due to be delivered in 2016, eight in 2017, and five in 2018. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Amaszonas Uruguay plans to start CRJ-200 service between Montevideo (MVD) & Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) in July

Just about exactly one year ago, the Bolivian airline Amaszonas bought the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of BQB Lineas Aereas right after the latter shut down.  Amaszonas' intention was to replace the defunct carrier with its own Uruguayan-based service to Argentina and other points but it did not gain the proper authority in short order as it had planned.  

Being a Bolivian airline with Bolivian-registered aircraft, Amaszonas was not authorized to operate routes originating from Uruguay, even having bought BQB's Air Operator Certificate. Also, BQB was part of the holding group Las Cipreses S.A. and for the BQB AOC to be passed on to another carrier, BQB first had to be removed from Las Cipreses ownership. This being completed, the AOC could then be passed on to Amaszonas, subject to the approval of the Uruguayan Ministry of Transport. 

Amaszonas recently concluded this process forming a Uruguayan affiliate, Amaszonas Uruguay, which is on the verge of starting service between Montevideo (MVD) and Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) having received route authority from both the Uruguayan and Argentine aviation authorities to fly the all-important "Air Bridge" as this route is known.                 

Amaszonas CRJ-200ER, CP-2969 (c/n 7209), arrived in Montevideo (MVD) on 04May16 wearing the Amaszonas Uruguay livery, which is similar to that of the parent airline, except that it is in light blue / yellow colors (same as the Uruguayan flag) instead of red / green and has "Uruguay" titles just below "Amaszonas" on the fuselage in place of where the parent airline has "Linea Aerea" on its aircraft. 

See link below:

Curiously, the aircraft has a Bolivian registration and there has been no word of plans to add the plane to the Uruguayan register although this is apparently required for Amaszonas Uruguay to have a Uruguayan AOC.  The aircraft will need to be flown by Uruguayan pilots and flight attendants too and with no CRJ-200's previously on the Uruguayan register they will presumably have to be trained.    

The new airline intends to take delivery of two more CRJ-200's from its Bolivian parent in July and August with plans for eventually six aircraft in the Amaszonas Uruguay fleet by 2018.  

Amaszonas Uruguay intends to start flying between Montevideo (MVD) and Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) twice daily in competition with Austral and Alas Uruguay in early July.  Other possible routes include seasonal flights from Argentina to the Uruguayan summer resort of Punta del Este (PDP), some Brazilian routes, such as Montevideo (MVD) to Porto Alegre (POA) and Florianopolis (FLN), also Santiago (SCL) plus the possibility of Montevideo (MVD) - Cordoba (COR) - Santa Cruz (VVI) to tap into the large Bolivian population in Cordoba that would want to fly to Santa Cruz, a route presently not served by any other carrier.   
Interestingly, going on the Amaszonas website and selecting "Uruguay" as the country of residence, the site redirects the visitor to a BQB Lineas Aereas website with an Amaszonas route map so BQB's past AOC still plays a role in Amaszonas Uruguay's current operation. 

Editor's Comment:

The route plans of Amaszonas Uruguay sound very similar to those of Alas Uruguay but there is not enough traffic for two new Uruguayan carriers to operate successfully on these sectors; even one would find it very challenging to compete against the established foreign carriers.  

Amaszonas Uruguay's 50-seat CRJ-200's will be cheaper to fly than Alas Uruguay's 130-seat 737-300's but the per seat costs of the Canadairs are considerably more than those of the Boeings, so even with full planes Amaszonas might find it difficult to make money.  They have higher seat-mile costs mainly due to the high per seat fuel consumption of the smaller plane that in times of expensive fuel make the CRJ-200's uneconomical to operate as US and European regional operators of large numbers of the type discovered during the last decade.                


Monday, May 16, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas 737-7Q8, LV-CPH (c/n 28238/817), leaves fleet to Southwest Airlines

Aerolineas Argentinas 737-7Q8, LV-CPH, taxiing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 11Oct15.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas 737-700, LV-CPH (c/n 28238/817), departed Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 14May16 to Boeing Field (BFI) via Caracas (CCS). 

The aircraft will soon join Southwest Airlines as have at least four other former Aerolineas' 737-700's; LV-CBG (c/n 30235/672), LV-CAM (c/n 30243/919), LV-CBS (c/n 30236/715) and LV-CCR (c/n 30237/730).

See this link:

Southwest Airlines has been adding many used 737-700's from other airlines recently, including from WestJet, Oman Air, AeroMexico and Transaero.  It plans to acquire at last 83 used 737-700's as an economical way of replacing some of the older aircraft in its fleet, such as its still large fleet of over 100 737-300's and the 717's that left to Delta Air Lines.     


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Alas Uruguay - Summary of Developments - September 2015 - May 2016

Alas Uruguay 737-33R, CX-OAB (c/n 28869/2887) pushes back at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 17Mar16.  (Phil Perry Photo) 

The last posting on this blog regarding Alas Uruguay was in August 2015.

Since then the carrier has taken delivery of its third 737-300, completed the process of acquiring its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), and started scheduled service from Montevideo (MVD) to Asuncion (ASU) and Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP).     

Alas Uruguay was launched in recent years by former PLUNA employees and the Uruguayan government looking to find gainful employment for the workers and replace some of the air connectivity that was lost when the former national airline was abruptly shutdown by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica on 05Jul12 due to the carrier's continuing losses.

Alas, which was at one point to be organized as a worker's cooperative, was instead formed as a corporation with the former PLUNA workers owning most of the carrier.  The FONDES Uruguayan government business development fund granted Alas a US$ 15 million loan to be taken in installments to be paid back over a 10-year term to help the airline literally get off the ground. 

Alas contracted to lease three 737-300's with plans to deploy them on many of the same routes flown previously by PLUNA to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay with the most important route by far being the highly-profitable "Air Bridge" between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Montevideo (MVD).  

First 737-300

The first 737-300, put on the Uruguayan register as CX-OAA (c/n 28569/2996), was delivered to Alas on 28Jan15, though it spent several months in Porto Alegre (POA) undergoing preparations for entry into service prior to flying to Alas' Montevideo (MVD) base.  It was originally delivered to Air France in 1998 but mostly flew for Ukraine International Airlines before going on to Alas.  

Second 737-300

Alas' second 737-300, CX-OAB (c/n 28869/2887), was delivered on 06Mar15 after having flown for Western Pacific Airlines, Olympic Airways/Airlines, and Ukraine International since its original delivery in June 1997.  

Third 737-300

Alas took delivery of its third 737-300, CX-OAC (c/n 28563/2921), on 14Nov15 having previously flown for Frontier Airlines (to which it was delivered in August 1997) followed by Virgin Nigeria, SAMA (Saudi Arabia) and VivaAeroBus (Mexico).    

Certification Process

The airline went through 5 phases to gain its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the DINACIA Uruguayan aviation regulatory authority.  The fourth and fifth phases took place in late 2015 consisting, respectively, of three route-proving flights designed to test Alas' readiness to carry out real-world scheduled airline operations and the preparation of extensive formal documentation for approval by the DINACIA.  Alas finally concluded the certification process that it began on 06Jun14 when it received its AOC from the DINACIA on 30Oct15.

Start of Scheduled Service

After going online in December 2015 with its own website and the Amadeus global distribution system used by travel agencies, the carrier was ready to initiate scheduled operations with the inaugural flight taking place from Montevideo (MVD) to Asuncion (ASU) on 21Jan16.   

Buenos Aires Service
A big breakthrough for Alas was the change of government in Argentina on December 10, 2015 with the new president being much more open to allowing airline competition to/from and within Argentina with the result that the Argentine ANAC aviation authority granted permission to Alas to operate up to five daily flights on the Buenos Aires - Montevideo "Air Bridge", although the carrier is flying this route with only two daily flights so far.  The first Alas Uruguay scheduled flight from Montevideo (MVD) to Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) was operated on 27Jan16 by aircraft CX-OAA. 

Alas Uruguay has faced stiff competition from Austral (Aerolineas Argentinas' sister carrier) and its 100-seat E190 jets on this route with Alas' load factors reportedly being about 28%.

Financial Situation, Boliviana & Amaszonas

As of this writing, Alas has accessed nearly all of its credit line with the FONDES and has reportedly been looking for more funds from the Uruguayan government. It has also talked with the two main Bolivian airlines about possible alliances and investment; the state-owned Boliviana de Aviacion and the privately-held Amaszonas, which is starting its own Uruguayan unit called Amaszonas Uruguay with CRJ-200 regional jets. 

However, discussions with Amaszonas broke off when it indicated that it wanted Alas to keep only 30% of its 200-person workforce and return all of its 737-300's to the lessors as requirements for cooperation to take place. 

And talks with state-owned Boliviana also ended when the airline discovered that Alas was organized as a "Sociedad Anonima" (corporation) and not as a worker's cooperative, which would have meant a guarantee of ongoing Uruguayan government assistance to the carrier.    

A request by Alas for US$ 6 million in further assistance from the Uruguayan government has apparently also been not well received. 
In the meantime, the money received from the FONDES is supposed to run out by the end of May, leaving the carrier to fund operations from flight revenue. Alas recently postponed certification procedures for its third 737-300, CX-OAC, which might be interpreted as a cost-saving measure. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ROUTE UPDATE: Air New Zealand to replace 777-200 with 787-9 between Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and Auckland (AKL)

Air New Zealand will replace the 777-200ER's that it has been operating between Argentina and New Zealand during the past five months with the 787-9, effective 30Oct16, with the airline also increasing frequency on the route from 3x to 4x/weekly for the southern hemisphere summer from 12Dec16 to 27Feb17.   

Air New Zealand's 787-9's will join the 787-8's of AeroMexico, AVIANCA, and United flying to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE).  American and LAN have both also flown the 787-8 to Ezeiza, from Dallas Ft. Worth (DFW) and Santiago (SCL), respectively.  


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Irelandia Aviation - Low-Cost Carrier Development Company that Founded Ryanair looks at Argentina

Executives of Irelandia Aviation, the low-cost carrier development company that founded Ryanair and several other LCC's, such as Allegiant Air (USA), Tiger Airways (Singapore), Viva Aerobus (Mexico) and Viva Colombia, recently visited Argentina, apparently to evaluate the possibility of establishing an LCC operation there.  According to the high-quality Argentine weekly airline industry website, Aviacion News, when recently meeting with Argentine Minister of Transport Guillermo Dietrich, the Irelandia executives discovered two formidable barriers to establishing an LCC in the country:

1)  Minimum Airfares Enforced 

The Argentina government regulates the airfares that airlines can charge, with several "bands" of fares with maximums and minimums.  While the government has signaled flexibility with regard to allowing the maximums to increase it will apparently hold steady on not allowing the minimums to drop at all.  The editor of this blog believes that the government fears a sharp increase in already-high losses by Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral should a low-cost operation come into the country, offering fares significantly lower than AR/AU can offer, thereby taking away much of the latter's traffic. 

2) High Degree of Unionization            

Most LCC's require a low level of workforce unionization mostly for flexible work rules for greater efficiency to achieve high productivity.  Contrary to popular perceptions, while some LCC's pay lower-than-average salaries compared to legacy carriers, many do not.  For example, the first, most successful, and best-known LCC, Southwest Airlines has some of the highest wages among US airlines.            

However, airline workers in Argentina are highly-unionized and a union-less carrier or one with only a couple of unions, such as for the pilots, would meet with strong opposition and never be approved politically. 


Monday, May 9, 2016

Aerolineas Argentinas 2016 subsidy cut from US$ 1 billion to US$ 420 million to US$ 260 million

Newly-appointed Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral CEO Isela Costantini, who was designated as the carrier's new leader at the beginning of this year, determined in an analysis of the company's finances with senior staff, that maintaining the operation that she took over from previous Aerolineas CEO Mariano Recalde would require approx. US$ 1 billion (thousand million) in continued subsidies in calendar year 2016.

Consulting with new Argentine president Mauricio Macri's chief of staff Marcos Pena, other senior officials, and labor leaders at the airline, cost savings opportunities were identified to bring the subsidy down to US$ 420 million. However, upon further analysis, Pena has recently indicated that the subsidy must come down to US$ 260 million.  Making matters worse, it is estimated that in the January - March trimester, Aerolineas already received US$ 100 million, which would leave only US$ 160 million for the remainder of the year.     

So far, Costantini has managed to maintain the peace with labor union leaders by avoiding staff cuts through the introduction of new service, especially out of Cordoba (COR) and Rosario (ROS), Argentina's second and third-largest cities respectively, on new nonstop point-to-point domestic routes that avoid routing via Buenos Aires.    

The biggest savings that the company could achieve from modifying existing operations is widely viewed to be long-haul intercontinental services to the US, Italy and Spain which consistently lose large amounts of money. Cutting them back or eliminating them altogether and disposing of the large and expensive aircraft that serve these routes would go a long way to reducing the need for subsidies but doing so would likely create significant problems with Aerolineas' powerful unions due to the job losses that such cuts would entail, especially because the long-haul routes pay flight crews the highest wages.  


Sunday, May 8, 2016

ROUTE UPDATES: Aerolineas Argentinas & Austral - Part 4 - MENDOZA (MDZ) & OTHER "INTERIOR" CITIES

Specific routes that have been or will be added / increased by Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral in the coming months out of Mendoza and several other cities: 

Mendoza (MDZ) - Bariloche (BRC) - eff 01Sep16

1x/daily using Aerolineas 737NG's

Mendoza (MDZ) - Mar del Plata (MDQ) - eff 03Jul16

3x/weekly using Austral E190's

Mendoza (MDZ) - Salta (SLA) - eff 01Jul16

Adding 2x/weekly for total of 5x/weekly using Austral E190's

Bariloche (BRC) - Viedma (VME) - eff April 2016

Originally announced as 3x/weekly but now showing as 1x/weekly using Austral E190's. 

La Rioja (IRJ) - Catamarca (CTC) - eff September 2016

Originally announced as increasing to 1x/daily but now showing as 1x/weekly using Austral E190's. 

Note that Mendoza (MDZ) - Mar del Plata (MDQ) that was announced for July 2016 is not showing on the Aerolineas website. 

2016 Seasonal Summer Services - (now concluded)

According to the Telam press release dated 12Nov15 the following 2016 seasonal summer service was scheduled:  

Tucuman (TUC) - Mar del Plata (MDQ) - eff 02Jan16 - 29Feb16

3x/weekly using Aerolineas 737-700's 

Sources: via Eric Trum via Eric Trum via Eric Trum via Eric Trum

Saturday, May 7, 2016

ROUTE UPDATES: Aerolineas Argentinas & Austral - Part 3 - ROSARIO (ROS)

Specific routes that have been or will be added / increased by Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral out of Rosario (ROS) in the coming months: 

* Rosario (ROS) - Bariloche (BRC) - eff 01Jul16

Additional 2x/weekly for a total of 7x/weekly operated by Aerolineas 737NG's

Rosario (ROS) - Cordoba (COR) 

5x/weekly using Aerolineas 737NG 

* Rosario (ROS) - El Calafate (FTE) - eff 01Jul16

Additional 2x/weekly for a total of 6x/weekly operated by Aerolineas 737NG's

* Rosario (ROS) - Iguazu Falls (IGR)

3x/weekly operated by Austral E190's

* Rosario (ROS) - Mendoza (MDZ) - eff 01Jul16

Additional 3x/weekly for a total of 5x/weekly operated by Austral E190's

* Rosario (ROS) - Salta (SLA) - eff 01Jul16

New service 3x/weekly using Austral E190's 


Friday, May 6, 2016

ROUTE UPDATES: Aerolineas Argentinas & Austral - Part 2 - CORDOBA (COR)

The Aeropuerto Internacional de Cordoba (COR) is seeing a sharp increase in new service from Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral in 2016. (Phil Perry Photo)

Specific routes that have been or will be added / increased by Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral in the coming months out of Cordoba (COR):  

* Cordoba (COR) - Bariloche (BRC) - eff 01Jul16

7x weekly using Aerolineas 737NG's  

* Cordoba (COR) - Jujuy (JUJ)  

4x/week using Austral E190's

* Cordoba (COR) - Mendoza (MDZ) 

14x/week operated by Aerolineas 737NG's and Austral E190's

* Cordoba (COR) - Rosario (ROS) 

4x/weekly using Aerolineas 737NG 

* Cordoba (COR) - Salta (SLA) - eff 01Sep16

Additional flights for a total of 9x/weekly using Austral E190's

* Cordoba (COR) - Tucuman (TUC) 

3x/weekly using Aerolineas 737NG's and Austral E190's

Cordoba (COR) - Ushuaia (USH) - eff 01Aug16 

4x/week using Austral E190's

Cordoba 2016 Seasonal Summer Service - (now concluded)

Cordoba (COR) - Cancun (CUN) - eff 02Jan16

Using Aerolineas A340-300's

Cordoba (COR) - Florianopolis (FLN) - eff 02Jan16


Cordoba (COR) - Mar del Plata (MDQ) - eff 01Jan16 - 29Feb16

6x/weekly operated by Austral E190's

* Cordoba (COR) - Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) - eff 02Jan16


Service Termination:

* Cordoba (COR) - Miami (MIA) - eff 01Jun16 discontinued