Monday, April 23, 2018

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Norwegian Air Argentina to be suspended ?

The future of Norwegian Air Argentina, the new Argentine Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) that was planned to start service later this year, appears to be in doubt.

Rumors that Norwegian would establish an LCC in Argentina started a couple of years ago but the carrier surprisingly did not participate in the route hearings of 27Dec16, the first held in Argentina in over ten years.  While Norwegian appeared to progress more concretely recently, having participated in the 06Sep17 route hearings and even having brought a 737-800 to Argentina fully-painted in NAA's colors complete with the image of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla on the tail, the carrier's planned start-up date was pushed back from August to October 2018 and again now to the end of this year.   

Explanation for the delays has been tied in some media to the late delivery by Boeing of new 737 MAX 8's to Norwegian, the parent carrier, which was in turn related to the late delivery of the new aircraft type's engines, the LEAP-1B, by their manufacturer, CFM International.  However, some recent reports have suggested that Norwegian failed to make timely payments to Boeing causing the manufacturer to hold up deliveries.   

Indeed, Norwegian has been in financial trouble lately having lost EUR 31 million last year and amassed a debt of some EUR 2,000 million (EUR 2 billion), very burdensome for a carrier its size.  This invited the interest of IAG, the owner of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Level and Vueling, resulting in the airline group buying 4.61% of Norwegian with an eye to buying all of the carrier.  Should IAG buy Norwegian (not a foregone conclusion due to European regulators' concerns of potentially reduced competition resulting from such an acquisition), the future of Norwegian Air Argentina would hinge on IAG's interest, or lack thereof, in pursuing an LCC project in Argentina.   

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Aerolineas Argentinas: Feeder Carrier for Domestic Flights ? - Austral New Aircraft by end 2018 - Long-Haul Aircraft to Oceania - Intercon Routes to Stay

Aerolineas Argentinas President Mario Dell' Acqua spoke at the recent World Travel & Tourism Council conference held in Buenos Aires stating four particular points of interest:   


With Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral steadily transitioning to larger aircraft, service to many of the Argentine domestic airports currently served by the group will no longer be commercially viable, not being able to produce enough passengers to operate larger aircraft profitably.  To remedy this situation, the Aerolineas group is looking to organize a network of feeder routes with "a serious and solvent" carrier operating smaller aircraft, presumably connecting smaller cities to Buenos Aires and AR's Cordoba (COR) hub. 

There has been speculation in at least one Argentine blog about which carrier this might be:

Flyest with its CRJ-200's is possible with its connection to the well-established Spanish commuter carrier Air Nostrum but Flyest is also a reincarnation of the now-defunct Sol Lineas Aereas that had a feeder agreement with Aerolineas' management under the previous Argentine presidency that was widely regarded as a sham.

LASA, the new Neuquen-based carrier that is scheduled to start service soon with EMB-145's is also possible. 

Avianca Argentina with its two ATR-72-600's, with more expected to be added to the fleet soon, would seem like a natural candidate to be a feeder carrier fro Aerolineas, both because it is "serious and solvent", having a major corporation as its backer, and operating an appropriate type of aircraft for feeder operations
possessing both a moderate number of seats and fuel-efficient propeller engines.       


Similar to what Aerolineas Argentinas has been saying recently, the new aircraft type that will eventually replace all of Austral's 26-strong E190 fleet is planned to have 180 seats, which appears to eliminate the E195 E2 new-generation jet from Embraer that is replacing the corresponding first generation E170/175/190/195 series of aircraft.       

The first example of the new type will likely be flying for Austral before the end of 2018, which suggests that a contract to buy or lease the type will be agreed to soon.  How long it will take to replace all 26 E190's is still unknown but previously it was suggested that the process would conclude in about 2-3 years time.  


Aerolineas is actively considering the new type that will replace its current long-haul fleet of 10 A330-200's and 2 A340-300's with a decision expected before the end of the year.  A newly-revealed requirement is that the new type must be able to operate profitably to Australia and New Zealand, which would suggest that the aircraft chosen will need to fly long distances nonstop with a full payload.


There has been much speculation in recent years that Aerolineas would dump its intercontinental routes due to their lack of profitability but the airline's flights from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Miami (MIA), New York Kennedy (JFK), Madrid (MAD) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO) will apparently continue. 


Thursday, April 19, 2018

ROUTE UPDATES: Andes LIneas Aereas steady growth in late 2017 / early 2018

Andes Lineas Aereas was reported by various news outlets to be planning the following new routes over the last few months.  Most of the scheduled flights have been verified by the editor of this blog as currently in operation but they might have started later than originally announced.  

All routes are operated by MD-83's or 737-800's or a combination of both. 

Scheduled Service

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Tucuman (TUC) - eff 21Nov17 - 6x/weekly

The route was originally announced as going on to Jujuy (JUJ) after stopping in Tucuman (TUC) but the airline is currently flying Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Jujuy (JUJ) non-stop and might not have ever started Jujuy (JUJ) as an extension of Tucuman (TUC).   
Summer 2018 - Seasonal Service - Scheduled

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Punta del Este, Uruguay (PDP) - eff 22Dec17 - 5x/weekly

This marks the first scheduled international service by Andes although the airline has flown charter series for tour companies to Brazil and the Caribbean plus occasional international ad hoc charters for professional sports teams, in addition to the large number of Argentine domestic student and sports charters that it has flown for many years. 

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Mar del Plata (MDQ) - eff 27Dec17 - 3x/weekly

This is a resumption of the route that Andes flew in summer 2017.

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) or Ezeiza (EZE) - Florianopolis, Brazil (FLN) - eff January 2018

Summer 2018 - Seasonal Service - Charters

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Varadero, Cuba (VRA) - eff 30Dec17 - 1x/weekly

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Porlamar, Venezuela (PMV) - eff 30Dec17 - 2x/weekly

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Samana, Dominican Republic (AZS) - eff Dec 2017 ? - 1x/weekly

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Cabo Frio, Brazil (CFB) - eff January 2018

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Porto Seguro, Brazil (BPS) - eff January 2018

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Salvador, Brazil (SSA) - eff January 2018

Cordoba (COR) - Florianopolis, Brazil (FLN) - eff 04Nov17-31Mar18

Cordoba (COR) - Cabo Frio, Brazil (CFB) - eff January 2018 (?)

Ongoing Charters

Cordoba (COR) - Maceio, Brazil (MCZ) - eff 07Apr18

This is a new charter service contracted by tour operators for sale to customers buying tour packages.  It is intended as a year-round service to this beach resort in northeastern Brazil subsidized by the local state government in the form of reduced fuel taxes to incentivize flights that will help fill local hotels in the offseason.     


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ROUTE UPDATE: Avianca Argentina adding Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Santa Fe (SFN) eff 06Jun18

Avianca Argentina ATR-72-600, LV-GUH (c/n 1395), taxis in after landing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 29Mar18.  This aircraft is one of two ATR-72-600's that have joined the airline so far. (Phil Perry Photo)

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Santa Fe (SFN) - eff 06Jun18 - 2x/daily

Operated with ATR-72-600's.  Santa Fe (SFN) will be the fourth airport in Avianca Argentina's network joining Aeroparque, Mar del Plata (MDQ) and Rosario (ROS).  The new flights are expected to connect at Aeroparque with those to Mar del Plata (MDQ) just as the Rosario (ROS) flights already do. 


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Judge lifts limits on flight operations at El Palomar (EPA) opening way for Flybondi to consolidate Buenos Aires services

Lifting of Restrictions on Flight Operations at El Palomar (EPA)

On 10Apr18, Judge Nestor Barral lifted restrictions on the number of flight operations by commercial carriers at the El Palomar (EPA) airport / air base located west of Buenos Aires and used by new Argentine LCC (Low-Cost Carrier) Flybondi for its flights servicing that city.  Previously, on 10Jan18, Federal Judge Martina Forns of the San Martin district had imposed a temporary injunction on flights at EPA pending the results of an environmental impact study determining the likely effects of commercial flights on the residential neighborhoods adjacent to the airfield.  This order was partly nullified by another legal finding on 01Feb18 limiting flight operations to six daily movements (takeoffs or landings) at EPA while the environmental impact study was being conducted.  

Flybondi Buenos Aires Flights split at Two Airports

With Flybondi being the only airline operating out of El Palomar (EPA), this measure effectively allowed the LCC to operate all three of the daily permitted takeoffs and all three landings but all of its additional flights serving the Buenos Aires region had to be flown out of Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP).  This led to the carrier having two operational bases in the Buenos Aires area with all of the extra costs that this implies plus a somewhat chaotic and confusing situation for passengers due to the uncertainty of which airport flights would depart from / arrive at.        

Consolidation of Flights at El Palomar (EPA)

Immediately after the order lifting the injunction, Flybondi started the process of shifting its operations at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to El Palomar (EPA), consolidating all of its flights serving Buenos Aires at the low-cost facility west of the city.  As of Saturday, April 14, the airline had five departures from EPA and seven on Sunday, April 15 serving all seven domestic destinations that it serves from EPA; Bariloche (BRC), Cordoba (COR), Corrientes (CNQ), Jujuy (JUJ), Mendoza (MDZ), Neuquen (NQN) and Tucuman (TUC). 

The lifting of the injunction also allows other carriers to start service from El Palomar (EPA).

Neighborhood Opposition

"Stop Flybondi", a group of residents from neighborhoods bordering El Palomar, such as the town of El Palomar to the south and Hurlingham to the north,  opposes commercial service at the airport and denounced the lifting of the temporary injunction as arbitrary and having no legal merit, going on to criticize the lack of noise mitigation measures and alleging collusion by the court with the Argentine federal government to promote the growth of commercial air traffic in the country without regard to laws that might limit such expansion. 

El Palomar (EPA) Airport Upgrade

The Argentine federal government has undertaken a 1,600 million (1.6 billion) peso project (approx. US$ 80 million) adapting El Palomar (EPA) for commercial operations in three stages:

1) 209 million pesos towards an upgrade of the existing small civil terminal for the start of commercial operations (already completed)

2) The renovation of hangars previously used by the military with two floors to be used for shops, automatic check-in kiosks, self-service baggage belts and customs and immigration facilities.  Work on this conversion is planned to start in July. 

3) Construction of an all-new purpose-built passenger terminal on the southwest side of the airport with capacity of up to 1 million passengers per annum.          


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Polar Lineas Aereas, proposed new Argentine start-up carrier, granted route authorities

Polar Lineas Aereas S.A., which proposed to fly 44 domestic routes and 31 international routes at the 06Sep17 Argentine route hearings, yesterday was granted the right to fly many of its requested routes by the Argentine Ministry of Transport.  

The airline's request consisted of both passenger and cargo routes focusing heavily on the San Luis province airports of San Luis (LUQ), Villa Mercedes (VME) and Merlo (RLO) including also many routes from Buenos Aires, Cordoba (COR) and La Plata (LPG).  Proposed international routes were mostly within South America but extended as far as Europe and Asia.  Approved international rights are reportedly mostly within South America.  

The route awards are for domestic and international non-scheduled flights, are valid for 15 years and subject to the airline being approved for an Air Operator Certificate and starting service within 180 days after having obtained the latter.

Possible aircraft types include the Airbus A319, A340, Boeing 737 and even the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, although there are few of the latter in operation anywhere in the world and none operating passenger flights.

Polar's reported business plan is to operate a network of cargo routes within Argentina that in turn would feed an international network of cargo flights from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Miami (MIA) where the freight would connect to US domestic flights.

Polar was awarded the rights because, according to Argentine Minister of Transport Guillermo Dietrich, the carrier proposes a "novel" network of routes not currently covered by other airlines.  The Transport Ministry expects that the carrier might invest up to US$ 650 million and employ 1,200 workers in its operation.   

Polar is owned by Daniel Barbosa, who previously operated CATA, an Argentine domestic airline that flew passenger and cargo flights using Fairchild FH-227's between 1986-2006.  Various Argentine media outlets have associated Polar Lineas Aereas with Polar Air Cargo of the United States but the editor of this blog could not find any news reports emanating from outside Argentina that suggested such a connection. 

Full details on Polar's presentation at the 06Sep17 route hearings:


Sunday, April 8, 2018

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Azul Uruguay launch suspended due to Azul refocus on Brazil

Azul Uruguay, the new airline which was planning to start service out of Montevideo (MVD) in March this year, was put on hold by its parent company, Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras, in late December 2017.

Three new ATR-72-600's, (c/n 1342) that was to be registered CX-URA(c/n 1360) that was to be CX-URB and (c/n 1367) to be CX-URY, were at the aircraft manufacturer's factory in Toulouse, France already earmarked to join Azul Uruguay but have since been reassigned to the fleet of Azul in Brazil. 

The start-up of Azul Uruguay was rumored to be suspended due to objections by its parent company to the certification procedures of the Uruguayan DINACIA aviation authority that took 16 months to license the now-defunct Alas Uruguay in 2015-16.  However, Azul Brazil said in a statement that the new division's start-up was due to a reassignment of resources to expansion in Brazil due to the country's nascent recovery from the economic recession of recent years.


Friday, April 6, 2018

PHOTO GALLERY: Derelict aircraft at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) in late 2017

Three abandoned aircraft have sat forlornly for months on the southeast side of Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) near the military sector commonly used for government VIP flights, including those of the Argentine president.    

The 737-200 and Learjet profile photos below were taken on 08Oct17 and the Turbo Commander and Learjet nose photos were taken on 26Nov17, all by blog editor Phil Perry.  The aircraft were spotted still at this location on 31Mar18. 

Former American Falcon 737-200, LV-WGX (c/n 21358/498), has been abandoned at Aeroparque for over a decade, at first on the west side of the airfield just north of the hangars there before the move to its present location on the southeast side.  (Phil Perry Photo)

LV-WGX was delivered to Gulf Air of Bahrain in 1977 where it flew until joining the Aerolineas Argentinas fleet in 1994.  It eventually joined the Argentine carrier American Falcon in 2000 where it flew until 2003 before being stored at Aeroparque in 2005 where it has been ever since.  

Rockwell 680V Turbo Commander, LV-OFX (c/n 680V-1681-63), was also on the west side of Aeroparque until its recent move to the southeast side.  (Phil Perry Photo)

LV-OFX first flew over 50 years ago in 1967 and was delivered directly to the Argentine Army's "Aviacion de Ejercito" as AE-104 before assuming its present civilian identity LV-OFX in 1980 and flying for a trio of operators, including Air Amigos, Banco Juncal and Empesur S.A.  It was finally embargoed in 1995 and abandoned soon thereafter.   

Learjet 35, LV-ZZF (c/n 35-049), sits engineless with its flying days behind it.  (Phil Perry Photo) 

LV-ZZF first flew in 1976 and was delivered to Arab Wings of Jordan, going on to fly for several operators in the US and Canada before joining Baires Fly in Argentina in April 2003 with its present identity.  

Front nose-on shot of LV-ZZF.  (Phil Perry Photo)

LV-ZZF when it was still operational flying for Baires Fly at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 29Oct10.  (Phil Perry Photo) 


Monday, April 2, 2018

PHOTO GALLERY: Ex-Macair Jetstream 32's at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 26Nov17

Engineless ex-Macair Jetstream 32, LV-ZOW (c/n 869), near the military sector on the southeast side of Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 26Nov17.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Ex-Macair Jetstream 32, LV-ZRL (c/n 928), in the same military area on the southeast side of Aeroparque on 26Nov17, also engineless and apparently at the end of its service life.  (Phil Perry Photo) 

Both LV-ZOW and LV-ZRL were reportedly no longer at AEP on 16Dec17, being presumably taken away for scrapping.

Macair operated a total of six Jetstream 32's, which will be the subject of a posting in the near future. 

LV-ZOW (c/n 869) first flew on 06Nov89 and was delivered to American Eagle in 1990, going on to AeroVip in Argentina in 1999 where it flew under several brands, including Aerolineas Argentinas Express, LAPA Vip and ARG Express, before joining Macair in 2007.     

LV-ZRL (c/n 928) first flew on 02Apr91, also being delivered to American Eagle before going on to CC Air where it operated on behalf of US Airways Express in the Carolinas region of the southern United States.  The aircraft went on to join AeroVip in Argentina in 1999, flying under several brands, including Aerolineas Argentinas Express, LAPA Vip and ARG Express and also flying in AeroVip's house colors before joining Macair in 2007.      


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ROUTE UPDATES: American announces Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Los Angeles (LAX) eff 19Dec18 + Cordoba (COR) - Miami (MIA) eff 02Apr19

Rumors had been circulating for about two weeks in the Argentine travel and aviation blog "Sir Chandler" that two big route announcements would be made soon and they were released today with both new routes to be operated by American Airlines.

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Los Angeles (LAX) - eff 19Dec18 - 3x/weekly

To be operated with 787-9's.  It is expected that connections to Asia via American's Los Angeles (LAX) hub for business travelers is one of the main rationales behind the new service.  

This route was previously flown by Aerolineas Argentinas with A310's in the 1990's via Lima (LIM) or Mexico City (MEX).  

Some readers of other blogs have commented that the new service might take away passengers from American's existing daily service from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) and recall AA's flights between EZE and Chicago O'Hare (ORD) that operated for a couple of years in the late 2000's before being suspended.       
Cordoba (COR) - Miami (MIA) - eff 02Apr19 - 4x/weekly

To be operated with 767-300's.  This route has been flown off-and-on several times by Aerolineas Argentinas over the last few decades using 707's, 727-200's and 737-200's on routings that included stops in Argentina and airports in other countries along the Pacific coast on the way up to Miami, also nonstop with 747's, and most recently using A340-300's between 04Jul15 and 29May16.   

Speculation by the editor of this blog about the viability of Cordoba (COR) - Miami (MIA) service by American:

History of service on the COR-MIA route by Aerolineas Argentinas:

Summary of the most recent Aerolineas flights between the two cities:

COPA and LATAM currently offer service from Cordoba (COR) to approx. 25-30 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean through their respective hubs but American will connect Cordoba (COR) with approx. 100 destinations in the same regions though Miami (MIA) with the vast majority of them being in the US.

American Airlines currently operates from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Miami (MIA) 2x/daily, to New York Kennedy (JFK) 1x/daily and Dallas-Ft. Worth 1x/daily for a total of 4x/daily flights and 28x/weekly.  Additionally, in the southern hemisphere summer high season from October or December (has varied by year) to March, the carrier operates a third daily flight between EZE and MIA. 

The new EZE-LAX and COR-MIA services will add another 7x/weekly flights for a total of 35x/weekly year-round flights by American between Argentina and the US.     


Saturday, March 24, 2018

VERY RARE PHOTO: Aeroflot Yak-40 CCCP-87791 at Montevideo (MVD) in March 1972

Aeroflot Yak-40, CCCP-87791 (c/n 9920203), at Montevideo (MVD) in March 1972, believed to be on the 24th of the month (46 years ago today), during a sales tour visiting several Latin American countries.  Note the derelict C-46 in the background on the left and the 707, believed to be of Pan American, on the right.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Just over 1,000 Yak-40's were built by Russian aircraft manufacturer Yakovlev between 1967 and 1981 with the type being operated mostly by Russian/Soviet airlines and military plus their Soviet bloc allies but with many also seeing service with carriers in Africa, Asia, Latin America (such as Bolivia and Peru) and even a handful flying in western Europe (Greece, Italy and West Germany). 

The Yak-40 had three jet engines and could carry 24-32 passengers over a range of 780nm/1,450km with a full passenger load and 970nm/1,800km with max fuel and had a maximum cruise speed of 297kt/550km.  There were 45 examples reportedly still in service in 2013 with probably a handful still flying today.  It could be considered the very first small regional jet.

As far as the editor knows, there were no Yak-40's sold in Latin America as a direct result of the 1972 sales tour of the region. 

UPDATED 07Apr18Carlos Abella has written with more information on the Yak-40's 1972 South American sales tour.  According to the British aviation magazine Flight International, in addition to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, the Yak-40 visited Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru with the Soviets claiming that they garnered an order for five examples from Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, although there is no evidence that these were ever delivered. 

Flight International - 07Oct71 - page 2063 

UPDATED 25Mar18 Good friend Carlos Abella, editor of the excellent Argentine aviation blog Rollout Spotting with exhaustive and detailed coverage of many subjects of interest related to Argentine and Latin American aviation history and current developments, posted this article several years ago with many details about the Aeroflot Yak-40's 1972 South American sales tour:

Rollout Spotting: Aeroflot Yak-40 at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 06Mar72

In summary, the Yak-40 visited both Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile with the idea of selling the aircraft to airlines of these two countries. 

The then Chilean socialist government of President Salvador Allende was considering adding Russian-built Ilyushin IL-62 long-range jets to the fleet of the government-owned national airline LAN Chile (today's LATAM) given the country's close relationship with the Soviet Union. The Yak-40 was flown to Santiago to pitch this aircraft type too.

Argentina's political situation at the time was not very conducive to increasing commercial ties with the USSR with most business leaders being right-leaning but the English aviation publication Flight International reported that the small regional airline, Aerochaco, based in the northern city of Reconquista, Chaco province ordered two Yak-40's with an option for one more.  However, the Argentine government would not allow the aircraft to operate on the Argentine register due to its not being certificated by the US Federal Aviation Administration.  Also, the Yak's operating economics were apparently poor being small for a jet-powered aircraft with only 24-32 seats.  

A turboprop Antonov 32 was apparently later also demonstrated to the airline but neither type entered service with Aerochaco.  

Aerochaco later went on to operate two Fairchild Hiller FH-227's (stretched model of the Dutch F-27).     


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Andes Lineas Aereas will fly families of Argentine soldiers fallen in the South Atlantic War to the islands on 26Mar18

Two chartered Andes Lineas Aereas MD-83's will fly from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to the Mt. Pleasant Royal Air Force base on the Malvinas/Falklands islands on 26Mar18 carrying 180 family members of 88 Argentine soldiers buried in the Argentine War Memorial Cemetery at Darwin. 

The 88 soldiers were identified last year by a team from the Argentine Forensic Society assisted by specialists from Australia, Chile, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the International Red Cross through the use of DNA samples.  The British authorities will reportedly hand over personal belongings of the previously unidentified soldiers to the families.  

The charter of these aircraft and all of the costs on the islands associated with this journey are being paid for by Eduardo Eurnekian, president of Corporacion America, owner of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000, which runs most of the airports in Argentina that have airline service (and some that do not).  A Gulfstream business jet owned by Mr. Eurnekian and a chartered American Jet Fairchild Metro 23 freighter (also paid for by Mr. Eurnekian) will also fly to the islands, the latter carrying new tombstones with the fallen soldiers' names on them to replace the existing ones bearing the legend "Argentine Soldier only known to God".