Sunday, December 30, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: BQB's Third ATR-72-212A CX-LFL due to arrive in January 2013

Blog editor's wife Laura about to board BQB ATR-72-212A, CX-JPL at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) for a flight to Punta del Este (PDP) on 16Sep11.

BQB Lineas Aereas' is scheduled to receive a third ATR-72-212A in January 2013 which will be registered CX-LFL after BQB owner Juan Carlos Lopez Mena's son Luciano Federico Lopez.  

The other two ATR's in BQB's fleet are also named after sons of Lopez Mena; CX-JPL signifies Juan Patricio Lopez and CX-JCL's namesake is unknown to the editor of this blog.       

Source:  Aviacion News 29Nov12
Photo:    Phil Perry

UPDATE 01Jan13:  

Blog reader "Sr. G" has noted that the initials JCL refer to BQB owner Juan Carlos Lopez himself !    

Friday, December 28, 2012

ex-PLUNA Employees need US$ 15 million more for New Airline

El Observador of Uruguay reports that the former employees of PLUNA forming a new carrier to replace the former national airline need US$ 15 million more to get the new operation off the ground.

Their business plan calls for US$ 30 million in start-up capital.  They are already getting US$ 15 million from the Fondo del Desarollo (Fondes), the Uruguayan state entity that provides development funds to new enterprises plus the Uruguayan government is likely to assume two years of debt payments on the seven CRJ-900's that will form the new carrier's fleet, effectively subsidizing the new operation by US$ 34.4 million.  

The employees were looking to receive the additional US$ 15 million from the Venezuelan state development bank BANDES but that bank's losses this year make such financing unlikely.  They are reportedly talking with two other banks at the present time about loans for the operation.          

The new carrier was planning to start up on April 1 but the employees will need the financing in place before then to meet that date.  Also, Uruguayan government legislation tied to the use of the assets of the former PLUNA call for the replacement airline to be operational within 180 days or the assets will be freed up for possible use by the proposed carriers of other parties.

Source:  El Observador 27Dec12  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Name Suggestions for PLUNA Replacement Airline

With the former PLUNA workers apparently proceeding to start a new airline to replace the failed  Uruguayan national carrier, there has been some discussion about the successor carrier's possible name.  Some of the suggestions have been serious with others mocking the process, including the airline's sudden shutdown stranding hundreds of passengers or leaving them with worthless tickets and the Cosmo failed auction fiasco.     

Most of the workers reportedly want to keep the PLUNA name, which is an acronym for Primeras Lineas Uruguayas de Navegacion Aerea (First Uruguayan Lines of Aerial Navigation).
    
However many other ideas have come up.  New name suggestions as posted online by readers of the El Observador Uruguay newspaper website include:

Air Uruguay

Uruguay Airways

Alas Uruguayas (Uruguayan Wings)

SkyBlue

Air Pepe ("Pepe" is Uruguayan President Jose Mujica's nickname)

SLUNA (Segunda "Second" Lineas Uruguayas de Navegacion Aerea)

LUNA (Lineas Uruguayas de Navegacion Aerea) but also means "moon", so this is a joke

PLUNAgate (in reference to the controversies surrounding the shutdown, mostly financial)   

Air Fenix (arisen from the ashes)

Titanic Airlines

Contribuyente Airlines (Taxpayer Airlines, since they always end up paying for it)

Source:  El Observador 29Nov12

Monday, December 24, 2012

Leal Lineas Aereas, MD-80 Operator, Ceases Operations

Leal Lineas Aereas of Salta, Argentina, famous for the duck logo on the tails of its two MD-83's, ceased operations after having operated a number of vacation charter flights in recent years. 

All three of its aircraft are parked in the maintenance area at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport (EZE).  They are:

MD-83, LV-CIT (c/n 49568/1380) with duck logo on blue tail:: 

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Untitled-(Leal-Lineas/McDonnell-Douglas-MD-83/1995648/L/&sid=097388a56bd1423ce34cbb5bea626935

MD-83, LV-CSW (c/n 49845) with duck logo on violet-colored tail:

http://jetphotos.net/viewphoto.php?id=7302772

MD-87, LV-BSC (c/n 49727/1621):

http://www.airliners.net/photo/Aerochaco-(Leal-Lineas/McDonnell-Douglas-MD-87/1445094/&sid=293655dab90e88157c64af98fda0d1aa

The MD-83's were flown for Leal by Flying America based at San Fernando (FDO) north of Buenos Aires.

Source: http://www.siscoma.com.ar/online/aviacion/2012/aviacion101812/aviacion101812.html

Photos:  www.airliners.net
            www.jetphotos.net

Saturday, December 22, 2012

BQB Lineas Aereas Planning Asuncion (ASU) Hub Operation

Catching up on some older news, as of 19Oct12, the Uruguayan airline BQB Lineas Aereas was planning to apply for an airline operator's certificate with the Paraguayan National Civil Aeronautics Bureau (DINAC) in order to base a regional hub in Asuncion (ASU), the nation's capital, flying to various cities in neighboring countries.  The certification process was expected to take three months. 

Editor's Comments:  The plan would presumably be to have flights to/from ASU feed each other. Given the airport's central geographic location between Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay, the concept could work if the airline were to obtain the necessary route rights from the various governments involved.  BQB would need more aircraft beyond its present two ATR-72-500's and they would need to be longer-range and faster-flying planes too.  

Source:   El Pais Uruguay 19Oct12

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Argentine Government Multiple Discriminatory Measures to Protect Aerolineas Argentinas

LAN Argentina and LAN Peru have been the airlines most damaged by the policies of  Argentina's ANAC.  Taxiing above is LAN Argentina A320, LV-BRA, at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 07Jul10.  Photo: Phil Perry

The Argentine government's National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC) recently denied LAN Argentina's request to add one more A320 to its fleet forcing the airline to cancel additional flights to Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD) and Ushuaia (USH).  The aircraft would have been the 11th A320 in LAN Argentina's fleet and a registration had even been tentatively reserved for it, LV-CZY. 

No clear reasons were given for the denial but this action is only the latest of many such denials and discriminatory measures taken by the ANAC against competing airlines, both foreign and domestic, to shield Aerolineas Argentinas, which has been losing US$ 2 million per day for the past year with no end in sight, from competition.   

Similar measures and denials during the past 2-3 years include:

* Sky Airlines of Chile applied to fly Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Santiago (SCL) starting in September 2010 but permission was delayed forcing the airline to postpone the start of service three months until December of that year after having sold tickets on the route.  This caused great inconvenience to passengers and the airline. 

* AeroVIP, set up by PLUNA as an Argentine subsidiary, was repeatedly denied route rights making the project unviable.

* PLUNA was denied route right requests to several points in Argentina with the only new airport that they were allowed to fly to being Cordoba (COR).

* ORSNA, the Argentine airport regulatory authority, ordered in December 2010 that the jetways at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) be reserved for the exclusive use of Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral with other carriers only allowed to use the remote stands.

* TACA flew some charters from Mendoza (MDZ) to Lima (LIM) in early 2011 and applied for permanent authority to fly on a scheduled basis on the route but was similarly never given permission.

* LAN Peru applied to fly from Iguazu (IGR) to Lima (LIM) but was denied permission only a few weeks prior to the scheduled start of service in January 2011 forcing the airline to fly to neighboring Foz de Iguacu (IGU).  The Brazilian authorities did not hesitate to grant permission to LAN Peru and welcomed them with open arms.      

* COPA sought permission to fly from Rosario (ROS) to Panama City (PTY) in late 2011 but was denied the request. 

* In early 2012, LAN Argentina was forced to move its regional flights to neighboring countries, such as Brazil and Chile, from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) while Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral continued to fly to these points from AEP.

* Also in early 2012, LAN Argentina was denied permission to add another 767 to its fleet that would have been used to increase Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Miami (MIA) flights from 7x/weekly to 10x/weekly. 

* LAN Peru flew from Rosario (ROS) to Lima (LIM) for several months but were denied permission to continue the flights with the last one operating on 29Feb12.

The latest rumor is that Aeroparque (AEP) will be reserved for the exclusive use of Aerolineas and Austral forcing other airlines to move operations to San Fernando (FDO) or Ezeiza (EZE).  Of course, due to reciprocal international route rights, Gol and TAM of Brazil, LAN of Chile, and BQB of Uruguay could not be forced to move out of AEP as long as Aerolineas and Austral continued to fly out of there to those countries but Argentine airlines would be obligated to obey the order.  This includes LAN Argentina, which would have to move to Ezeiza (EZE) but the airline would not be able to compete from that airport (20 miles / 32 km from downtown Buenos Aires) with AR/AU flights out of convenient Aeroparque (AEP).  

LAN Argentina's parent airline, LAN, would be forced to shut down its Argentine affiliate, throwing several hundred employees out of work.  These would probably be hired on by AR/AU much as the "paper" airline Lineas Aereas Federales did with former LAPA and Southern Winds employees in 2003.  Interestingly, Aerolineas Argentinas' planned fleet expansion for 2017 shows a doubling of 737-700/800 aircraft.  Where are they going to fly all of those planes ?  Could the plan to push LAN Argentina to Ezeiza (EZE) be part of a deliberate strategy to force LAN out of Argentina to create a virtual AR/AU monopoly on domestic flights ?

Sources:  La Nacion 11Dec10
              La Nacion 12Jul11
              La Nacion 12Jan12
              Aviacion News 01Mar12
              La Nacion 20Nov12 
              Aviacion News 22Nov12

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Maintenance of Former PLUNA Operation has Cost US$ 13 million

Maintaining all 13 former PLUNA CRJ-900's and flightcrew current since the airline's shutdown on 05Jul12 plus making loan payments on the seven owned aircraft has cost US$ 13.1 million to date. The trust in charge of the aircraft has paid these costs financed by public funds. 

Approx. US$ 8.8 million of the total has gone to ScotiaBank for installment payments due on the loans for the seven company-owned planes with another US$ 4.3 million going to maintaining the 13 aircraft flight-ready and flight crews current.

50 CRJ-900 flightcrew members have traveled to Madrid for simulator training.  The goal is to maintain the pilots ready to fly and avoid possibly more expensive retraining should their type ratings lapse.

In addition, 40 personnel are employed in doing the minimum maintenance required to avoid deterioration of any of the aircraft systems compared to 80 employees doing full-maintenance on the planes prior to PLUNA's shutdown.  Maintenance work includes testing altitude and flightspeed equipment plus short test flights between Montevideo (MVD) and Punta del Este (PDP). 

Source: El Observador Uruguay 29Nov12   

Friday, December 14, 2012

ROUTE UPDATES: Aerolineas Argentinas, Andes & LAN Argentina to fly Argentina-Originating Charters this Summer

Andes Lineas Aereas will be operating many charters from Argentina to Brazil and the Dominican Republic this summer with their MD-80's.  Pictured is Andes MD-83, LV-BTH, landing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 24Sep10.  Photo: Phil Perry  

Three airlines have been authorized by the Argentine ANAC to fly charters from Argentina to foreign destinations during the upcoming southern hemisphere summer - Aerolineas Argentinas, Andes and LAN Argentina.

The process was lengthy with the conclusion only arrived at recently.  Aerolineas Argentinas was given first choice of routes with other carriers only allowed to fly the routes that Aerolineas agrees to, effectively giving the national carrier a regulatory role in Argentine aviation policy.

The ANAC also required that the airlines operating charters from Argentina must be Argentine, operate regularly scheduled services (not charter-only operators) and use aircraft registered in Argentina.  This ruled out charter-only carriers like Leal Lineas Aereas that flew two MD-83's and an MD-87 on charters in the past and the use of foreign aircraft such as Vueling A320's leased in by Andes last year. 

Some of the seats that were sold to tour operators will be operated on a pure-charter basis while others will be part-charters using regularly-scheduled flights. 

Charter flights will include:

Aerolineas Argentinas 

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Porto Seguro (BPS), 4x/week 

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Salvador de Bahia (SSA), 4x/week

Because these destinations are in the far northeastern coast of Brazil, Aerolineas will likely operate 737-700/800's or A340's on these routes (not Austral's EMB-190's).

Part-charters with extra sections will also be operated from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Caracas (CCS), Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG), Florianopolis (FLN), and Cancun (CUN)

Andes Lineas Aereas

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Punta Cana (PUJ), Dominican Republic

Cordoba (COR) - Punta Cana (PUJ), Dominican Republic

Rosario (ROS) - Punta Cana (PUJ), Dominican Republic

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

Cordoba (COR) - Salvador de Bahia (SSA)

Rosario (ROS) - Salvador de Bahia (SSA)

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Porto Seguro (BPS) 

Cordoba (COR) - Porto Seguro (BPS) 

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Samana (AZS), Dominican Republic

Rosario (ROS) - Samana (AZS), Dominican Republic

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - La Romana (LRM), Dominican Republic

Cordoba (COR) - Talara (TYL) in northwestern Peru, unconfirmed

All to be operated 1x/week with MD-80's. 

LAN Argentina

Cordoba (COR) - Salta (SLA) - Porto Seguro (BPS) - Maceio (MCZ), Daily with A320

Source: Aviacion News 01Nov12

Please note that La Voz, Cordoba's daily newspaper, reported in its online edition on 26Oct12 that charters to be operated from Cordoba (COR) will be the following, somewhat different from Aviacion News: 

Andes Lineas Aereas 

Recife (REC)
Salvador de Bahía (SSA)
Punta Cana (PUJ)
La Romana (LRM)
Punta Sal / Talara (TYL) 

All above with 1x/week flights. 

Porto Seguro (BPS) with 2x/week flights.

LAN Argentina

Maceio (MCZ), 1x/week

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ROUTE UPDATES: Airlines Increase & Introduce New Service to Montevideo (MVD) Replacing PLUNA

Several airlines have increased existing service or introduced new service from Montevideo (MVD) since PLUNA shut down in early July, including:

Austral Lineas Aereas 

New Service with Embraer 190 to:

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), 5x/day

BQB Lineas Aereas 

New Service with ATR-72-500 to:

Asuncion (ASU), 5x/week initially, later increased to daily

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), 2x/day

Florianopolis (FLN) starting in December

LAN

Increased Service with A319 to:

Santiago (SCL), from 2x/day to 3x/day

TAM

Increased Service with A320 to:

Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU), from 2x to 3x/day

New Service with A320 to:

Rio de Janeiro (GIG), 1x/day

In addition, Gol is rumored to be considering increasing its MVD to GRU flights from 1x/day to 2x/day and starting daily MVD to GIG flights next year. 

Sources: Aviacion News
             El Pais Uruguay 27Oct12
             El Observador Uruguay 01Dec12
             www.flightstats.com
   

Monday, December 10, 2012

BQB - No Agreement with Iberia to Codeshare between MVD & MAD - Negotiating with other Airlines

It turns out that BQB Lineas Aereas' agreement to codeshare with Iberia on the Uruguayan airline's planned new service between Montevideo (MVD) and Madrid (MAD) in April was announced prematurely as the two carriers made no such agreement.  BQB is instead pursuing codesharing or similar partnerships with other European carriers to connect passengers through Madrid (MAD) to other European cities.

Separately, the airline announced plans to hire approx. 100 personnel, including pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and other ground personnel to operate the new route.

But will the service start without marketing agreements with other carriers being in place ?     

Source:  El Observador Uruguay 09Dec12 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BQB Announces Intention to Fly Montevideo (MVD) - Madrid (MAD) with 767-300ER's


BQB Lineas Aereas has announced its intention to operate the Montevideo (MVD) - Madrid (MAD) route six-times weekly effective April 2013 on a codeshare basis with Iberia now that the Spanish airline has officially announced that it will stop flying the route effective April 1.  The Uruguayan airline is looking to lease two 767-300ER's for the service, which it hopes to operate with Uruguayan pilots, cabin crew, ground staff, and mechanics.

Editor's Comments:  

The proposed service seems viable given that it would be operated on a codeshare basis with Iberia which means that seats on the flights would be sold using the Spanish airline's huge market presence, both through its own marketing resources and those of its oneworld airline alliance partners.  The codesharing would presumably extend on flights beyond Madrid (MAD) connecting to other European points served by Iberia, thereby enhancing the possibilities of this service.

At least for now, this would be the best way for Iberia to continue serving the Montevideo (MVD) to Europe market.  However, with reports that TAM will likely join the oneworld alliance as part of its merger with LAN, it might be better for Iberia to codeshare with TAM from Montevideo (MVD) to Sao Paulo (SAO) to Madrid (MAD) to keep the revenue in the oneworld alliance although such a service would not be nonstop to Madrid (MAD) as BQB's is planned to be. 

Source:  El Observador Uruguay 07Dec12

Friday, December 7, 2012

ROUTE UPDATE: Iberia Discontinuing Montevideo (MVD) - Madrid (MAD) Flights in April 2013

Iberia Airlines announced in mid-November that it was going to reduce flights between Montevideo (MVD) and Madrid (MAD) from six per week to five-times weekly on 01Jan13 only to recently announce that it is going to discontinue all service between the two cities effective next April.

The airline has recorded high load factors on the route with the first quarter of 2012 having 89% seat occupancy and the second quarter 84%.  

Editor's Comments:  While this might suggest good profitability, a lot depends on the average fare yield on the route.  Even with high load factors, if nearly all the tickets sold were discounted economy-class fares, Iberia might be losing money on the route.  On most routes, a full-service carrier like Iberia would need for 10% or more of the passengers to be higher-fare paying business travelers.     
There was speculation initially that LAN or COPA would replace Iberia on the route but neither carrier is authorized to fly between Montevideo (MVD) and Madrid (MAD) plus COPA does not have long-range aircraft for transoceanic flights nor would MVD-MAD fit into its route system.  The route would not make sense for LAN either as they would be competing with TAM, part of the same ownership group, whose flights from Montevideo (MVD) to Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) connect to TAM's Madrid (MAD) flights.

BQB Lineas Aereas' owner Juan Carlos Lopez Mena has expressed interest in flying the route on a codeshare basis with Iberia.  How this would work given BQB's lack of long-range aircraft is uncertain but a reader of El Pais Uruguay online suggested that BQB might fly the A320 that they are supposed to receive early next year from Montevideo (MVD) to Guarulhos (GRU) or Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) connecting to Iberia.  But with LAN/TAM likely to stay in the oneworld airline alliance which Iberia also belongs to, this would seem unlikely because it would compete with TAM's Montevideo (MVD) flights to Guarulhos (GRU) connecting to Iberia to Madrid (MAD).  

Sources: Aviacion News 29Nov12
             El Observador Uruguay 01Dec12
             El Pais Uruguay 01Dec12

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Montevideo (MVD) Passenger Traffic down 45% without PLUNA

Passenger traffic at Montevideo (MVD) was down 45% during the three months of June, July, and August 2012 compared to the same months in 2011.  This period coincides with the demise and eventual shutting down of PLUNA on July 6.

MVD had the following passenger traffic in those months of 2011: June 137,953; July 185,734; and August 189,446 for a total of 512,773 passengers.  By comparison, in 2012 the passenger numbers fell to 73,830 travelers in June, 102,780 in July, and 103,782 in August for a total of 280,392 travelers.  The drop of 232,381 travelers representing a 45.3% year-over-year decline. 

The year had started off very well for MVD with a 17.1% increase in travelers during the January to May months (477,393 passengers in 2011 to 559,156 in 2012) but the subsequent decline in passengers the following three months yielded an 8.9% drop in cumulative numbers through August.       

Aerolineas Argentinas was one beneficiary of PLUNA's shutdown as it operated 78 more flights between Buenos Aires and Montevideo during June-August than in the same months in 2011 carrying 4,004 more passengers in the process.

Source: El Pais Uruguay 03Nov12

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: All Six Leased ex-PLUNA CRJ-900's departed Montevideo (MVD) to Canada Today

All six ex-PLUNA CRJ-900's that were leased-in from Export Development Canada departed Montevideo (MVD) today, one after another with the first one taking off at 8:40am.  The aircraft reportedly had their PLUNA titles and Uruguayan registrations removed with Canadian registrations added.  Their flights to Canada were going to reportedly route via Peru, presumably Lima (LIM).

They were the six most recent CRJ-900's that PLUNA received, joining the fleet in 2010 and 2011. The six specific aircraft were, as previously reported:

CX-CRH (c/n 15233)
CX-CRI (c/n 15234)
CX-CRK (c/n 15239)
CX-CRL (c/n 15273)
CX-CRM (c/n 15274)
CX-CRN (c/n 15275)


Source:  El Observador Uruguay 04Dec12
             El Pais Uruguay 04Dec12

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Former PLUNA Workers' New Airline Project Moves Forward

Former Buenos Aires employees of PLUNA in front of ex-PLUNA ticket counter at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) in mid-October 2012.  The workers were protesting that they were not paid for the last month of work prior to PLUNA's shutdown.  (photo taken with permission of workers)  

President Jose Mujica of Uruguay recently signed a law that would enable the trust managing the seven former company-owned PLUNA CRJ-900's to negotiate the sale, lease, or transfer of the aircraft to an entity formed by the former PLUNA workers.  The law bill will now go to the Uruguayan congress to be voted on.  

If passed, the seven aircraft will end up in the hands of the workers' cooperative being formed by a group of former PLUNA employees to start a new airline replacing the defunct national carrier, though on a smaller scale than the original airline. The entity receiving the aircraft will negotiate route rights and frequencies with the Uruguayan government. 

Though the terms of the handover of the planes have not yet been determined, it was previously reported that the Uruguayan government was considering giving the aircraft to the workers for free.  One condition that has been imposed is that the workers will have 180 days to get the airline up-and-running using the seven CRJ-900's.  If they fail to meet this deadline, the planes would be made available to other parties.  Whatever happens will require the president's approval before going forth.  

The head of the workers' union, Cesar Iroldi, indicated that the workers' cooperative will approach the Fondes (Development Funds Office) for the start-up capital in the next few days.  Fondes was formed by the present government to fund entrepreneurial efforts and is capitalized with 30% of the  Banco de la Republica's (Uruguayan national bank) income.

The workers claim that they expect the new airline to be operational by 01Apr13 with 450 employees and their business plan projects a US$ 7 million loss in the first year of operations.  The new airline's name is yet to be determined.  President Mujica remarked that they will need to get somebody with significant managerial experience and a substantial presence in the business world to run the airline.                

Sources:  El Pais Uruguay 28Nov12, 29Nov12
              El Observador Uruguay 28Nov12

Photo:     Phil Perry
              

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aeroparque - No More General Aviation Flights effective 30Nov12

The Argentine Civil Aviation Administration recently announced that all general aviation traffic and commercial flights operated by aircraft with fewer than 31 seats will be banned from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), effective 30Nov12.  The only exception to this will be official government flights, such as the president's aircraft, and declared emergencies.  Air taxi companies and FBO's (fixed base operators) that are based at Aeroparque will be allowed to operate out of AEP until 31Jul13.  

This means that small airlines such as Aerochaco and LAER that use 19-seat Jetstream 32's will have to move their operations north to San Fernando (FDO) if they continue service at all.  Sol operates Saab 340A's and 340B's that have between 34-37 seats so they meet the 31-seat cutoff and will presumably be allowed to continue operating from AEP.

The reason behind the measure is the "saturation" of the airport from an air traffic standpoint since regional international flights were introduced at AEP in early 2010 plus the growth of domestic flights at the airfield in recent years.  

Editor's Comments:

I have been to Aeroparque many times in recent years to spot and take photos and far from perceiving the airport to be a very busy place it has struck me as having relatively little traffic for one of two main airports of a major cosmopolitan city.  

Compared to some other major one-runway airports, Aeroparque does not seem especially busy. 8.25 million passengers travelled through AEP in 2011 and the airport has 295 daily movements by commercial airlines.  By comparison, San Diego (SAN) had 16.8 million passengers in 2010 and has 342 daily commercial flights and London-Gatwick (LGW) had 33.6 million travellers in 2011 and has 550 daily flights, nearly double Aeroparque's.  I suspect the difference is explained by greater investment in equipment and infrastructure. Rather than turn away aircraft, it would be better to invest more in AEP, which is an important contributor to the Argentine economy.      

Sources:   http://www.aviacionnews.com/blog/2012/11/tendria-fecha-de-
               salida-la-aviacion-general-de-aeroparque/
               Wikipedia re Sol Saab 340's, SAN, and LGW 
               www.flightstats.com       

Monday, November 26, 2012

ROUTE UPDATE: TACA to Start Flying A330's on its Lima (LIM) to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) Route on 15Dec12

Airlineroute.net reports that TACA will start flying the Airbus A330-200 once-daily on its already existing Lima (LIM) to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) route.  The airline currently flies A321's between the two cities twice-daily using this aircraft type for both services.

This will be the first wide-body passenger service by TACA in at least twelve years.  The carrier flew six 767-200's and three 767-300's in passenger service from about 1985 to 2000 and several A300F freighters at least during 1999-2001.

The AviancaTACA group has at least nine A330-200's in service.  They are powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700's and have seating for 252 passengers; 30 in business class and 222 in economy. 

The flight schedule for the A330-200 service will be:  

Flight       Routing                                Dep      Arr         Frequency

TA965      Lima - Buenos Aires Ezeiza      2158     0433+1   Daily
TA966      Buenos Aires Ezeiza - Lima      0629     0914       Daily 

Sources:   www.airlineroute.net via Eric Trum
               www.airbus.com
               www.airliners.net
               www.planespotters.net  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Aeroparque - Only for Aerolineas Argentinas & Austral ?

Catching up on some news from the last month:  Aerolineas Argentinas' management is reportedly considering proposing that Buenos Aires' convenient downtown airport Aeroparque (AEP) be reserved for the exclusive use of itself and sister-carrier Austral.  This proposal has been named "Plan Aeroparque".

Other airlines currently flying from Aeroparque include LAN Argentina, LAN (of Chile), Gol, TAM, BQB, Andes, Sol, LADE, plus Aerochaco and Lineas Aereas Entre Rios (both carriers' services operated by MacAir Jetstream 32's).  Under the plan, the jet operators; both LAN's, Gol, TAM, Andes, and LADE would all move their services to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) with the turboprop carriers; BQB, Sol, Aerochaco and LAER moving to San Fernando (FDO), a smaller airport to the north. 

According to the Argentine business website www.cronista.com, there are currently 295 daily airline operations (both takeoffs + landings) at Aeroparque (AEP) broken down by the following carriers:

Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral: 190
LAN Argentina 55
Sol Lineas Aereas 18
LAN (Chile) 6
Gol 6
TAM 6
Andes 4
BQB 4
Aerochaco 4
LADE 2

These vary by day of week and the editor of this blog believes that LAER also has about 6-12 flights per week.

The main motivation of the plan is to give AR/AU a competitive advantage by being the only carrier flying out of AEP, which is located in the city of Buenos Aires itself and is much more convenient than EZE or FDO, both located about 20 miles (32 km) of the city center.  This would allow AR/AU to raise airfares which would help turn around the US$ 2 million daily deficit that the airline is currently accumulating.

Aerolineas' management justifies the proposed move as a way of compensating for the flights that it operates to unprofitable destinations, while the private carriers only serve cities where they know they can make money.

The plan has not been put on paper or made public yet but it would likely be poorly received by the Brazilian carriers especially, with the likely consequence that AR/AU would not be allowed to fly from AEP to Brazil and would have to move their operations to EZE along with Gol and TAM, thereby cancelling out any competitive advantage that AR/AU sought to gain at least on those routes.  Also, if LAN Argentina were forced to move all of their operations to EZE, they would lose most of their passengers and incur heavy losses, with the parent airline likely shutting down its Argentine affiliate.  The resulting loss of hundreds of jobs would likely have to be absorbed by AR/AU for political reasons further deepening the carrier's already heavy financial losses.

Source: http://www.cronista.com 17Oct12  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas 2017 Fleet Plan

Aerolineas Argentinas 737-700, LV-BZA, (c/n 32674/1952), taxis at Aeroparque  on 11Oct12 in Skyteam colors.

Details have emerged recently about Aerolineas Argentinas' future fleet plans.  

The airline's fleet presently consists of  20 EMB-190's (operated by sister-carrier Austral), 26 737-700/800's, and 11 A340-200/300's.  In the short-term Aerolineas is looking to possibly acquire four A340's from Iberia and up to five used A330's for service between Argentina and northern Latin America and the United States.  By 2017, it plans to have 22 EMB-190's, 22 737-700's, 22 737-800's plus possibly an altogether new longer-range type as Guillermo Rudaeff, vice-president of business development and alliances at Aerolineas, told Flight Global that the carrier has had preliminary talks with Airbus and Boeing about acquiring A350-900's or 787-9's by the end of the decade.

Editor's Comments:  

With Aerolineas continuing to lose approx. US$ 2 million per day with no end in sight, one has to ask where all the new 737's would be operated to ?  

Also, with the biggest money losers for AR being by far the long-distance routes, one has to question the wisdom of adding longer-range aircraft, especially when AR does not compete successfully with foreign carriers for high-fare paying business travelers and most of the significant international routes are already well-served by foreign airlines.  For example, the Argentina - United States market is very well-served by American, Delta, United, LAN, TAM and COPA (the latter three with connections through their home-country hubs) while Aerolineas loses huge amounts of money flying to Miami (MIA).  So why fly there ?  

Sources:  Aviacion News 22Nov12
              www.flightglobal.com 16Nov12

Photo:     Phil Perry 

Monday, November 19, 2012

ROUTE UPDATE: Turkish Airlines Starting Service to Buenos Aires - Ezeiza (EZE) on 11Dec12

Airlineroute.net reports that Turkish Airlines started selling reservations to Buenos Aires - Ezeiza in GDS (Global Distribution Systems) on Saturday, 17Nov12. 

The service will be an extension of the carrier's four-times weekly Istanbul (IST) to Sao Paulo (GRU) flights operated by 777-300ER's.  The move is part of the airline's aggressive expansion to be a viable alternative to Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways connecting East and West through the Middle East (or close to it).  The airline recently also announced new service to Boston (BOS) and claims in its advertising that it flies to more countries than any other airline in the world. 

The flights will operate as follows:

Flight                Leg 1                       Leg 2                        Equipment   Frequency

TK015    IST 0920 - GRU 1900      GRU 2015 - EZE 2155          777-300ER   2,3,5,7 

TK016    EZE 2355 - GRU 0345+1  GRU 0505+1 - IST 2125+1    777-300ER   2,  3,5,7

Note: +1 = day following original departure day

Source:   http://airlineroute.net/2012/11/19/tk-eze-dec12/ via Eric Trum

Saturday, November 17, 2012

ROUTE UPDATES: Argentina & Uruguay Routes by American, BQB, Gol & Iberia

The following are among the more significant route changes to air service in Argentina and Uruguay recently:

Effective     Airline          Route                  Equip       Change

28Oct12    Gol              ROS-POA-GIG      737         New Service 5x/week      
28Oct12    American     EZE-MIA               777         3rd Daily Flight until 01Apr13
01Dec12    BQB            MVD-AEP              ATR-72    New Service 2x/day 
01Jan13     Iberia          MVD-MAD             A340       Reducing from 6x to 4x/weekly 

Iberia announced that it will reduce service from Montevideo (MVD) to Madrid (MAD) from six-times to four-times weekly, effective 01Jan13 to 31Mar13 and possibly for all of the year.  The flight frequency could even see further reductions.  The drop in flights is seen as part of Iberia's cost reduction program, which includes the furlough of 4,500 employees (claimed to be 6,000 by Iberia's unions).  

Sergio Banales, president of Uruguay's Asociacion de Agencias de Viajes (travel agency association) said that this is "terrible" for Uruguay's traveling public and travel agencies as Iberia operates the only direct flights from Uruguay to Europe.  


Editor's Comment:  There are many connections to Europe available from Montevideo (MVD) through Brazil's Sao Paulo (GRU) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) hubs but business and leisure travelers are always inclined to choose destinations with non-stop flights so incoming tourism and business travel to Uruguay will also likely be hurt.  


Source:  Aviacion News
              El Pais Uruguay 15Nov12

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PLUNA - Government Considering Buying CRJ-900's for Worker's Cooperative

PLUNA CRJ-900, CX-CRG, (c/n 15209) taxis at Buenos Aires - Aeroparque (AEP) on 29Jan11.  The aircraft was leased by PLUNA to its short-lived Argentine affiliate, Aero VIP, for about a year in 2009/2010 during which time it was registered as LV-BYW. 

With the failure of the auction of the seven ex-PLUNA CRJ-900's, there are few options on the horizon for the establishment of a Uruguayan national carrier.

BQB Lineas Aereas has withdrawn from the process and Argentine businessman Carlos Molinari has announced that he is stepping to one side for now. 

The latest possibility is that the Uruguayan government might form a government-owned company and pay the remaining debt on the aircraft, which it would donate to a workers' cooperative composed of former PLUNA employees. 

There would be no further subsidies, such as a reduction in taxes or the price of fuel, as other parties, such as Carlos Molinari had been negotiating at one point.

Source:  Aviacion News 
            www.planespotters.net

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: BQB to acquire 3rd ATR-72-212A & one A320

El Observador of Uruguay reports that BQB Lineas Aereas will take delivery of a third ATR-72-212A in December to complement the two ATR's in its fleet since 2010, CX-JCL (c/n 805) and CX-JPL (c/n 816).

The third aircraft will reportedly be used to introduce service to Rivera (RVY) in northern Uruguay, plus Curitiba (CWB) and Porto Alegre (POA), both in Brazil.  It will also presumably be used to help introduce service on the "Air Bridge" between Montevideo (MVD) and Buenos Aires - Aeroparque (AEP) when BQB starts flying the route twice-daily on 01Dec12.

Additionally, BQB plans to receive an A320, its first jet, in February 2013 for use on charter flights for six months to gain "certification" operating the type.  The airline will then decide if it wants to add more aircraft to "consolidate the process of the company's development" according to Juan Patricio Lopez, CEO of the airline.  

Editor's Comment:  It sounds like BQB does not expect that a Uruguayan flag carrier replacing PLUNA will be formed so it is taking the initiative to be ready to operate some of the former carrier's routes.

Sources: http://www.elobservador.com.uy 13Nov12
             http://www.planespotters.net

Monday, November 12, 2012

PHOTO GALLERY: BRAZIL PHOTOGRAPHY: Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont Airport - Part 3 of 3

The last posting of this three-part photographic series taken at Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont Airport SDU consists of business jets and props in private, military and government service.  All photos were taken as the aircraft were about to land or take off from runway 02R on Monday, 13Aug12.

ERJ-190AR, PR-ADV, (c/n 19000002)

Cessna Citation Mustang, PT-FLC, (c/n 510-0147)

Forca Aerea Brasileira Airbus A319CJ, FAB2101 (c/n 2263)

Cessna Citation Excel, PR-NBR, (c/n 560-5289)

Forca Aerea Brasileira Hawker U-125A, EU93-650, (c/n 258401) 

Forca Aerea Brasileira Embraer VC-99C, 2561 (c/n 145608)

Beechcraft King Air C90GTi, PR-STF, (c/n LJ-1907)

Cessna Citation Excel, PT-WYU, (c/n 560+5060)

IAI 1126 Galaxy, PR-FKK, (c/n 009) 

Socata TBM-50, PR-COK, (c/n 595)

All Photos:     Phil Perry
Aircraft Data: Eric Trum

Saturday, November 10, 2012

25 PLUNA Pilots Have Found Jobs outside Uruguay

Uruguayan newspaper El Pais reports that of the 120 former PLUNA pilots, 25 have found jobs outside of Uruguay with nine going to LAN in Chile and Peru, seven to COPA in Panama, and six pilots venturing as far as Ethiopia, Indonesia and Vietnam.     

The Uruguayan Civil Airline Pilots' Association (ACIPLA) estimates that 40 to 50 former PLUNA pilots have sought jobs elsewhere.  30 of the pilots were foreigners and have presumably left Uruguay.  

The pilots that found jobs in Panama and Indonesia report that they have at least doubled their former PLUNA salaries.  There were approx. 50 Uruguayan pilots and copilots flying in Chile even before the recent arrival of the ex-PLUNA flight crew members.  

Sources:  El Pais Uruguay, 14Oct12

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Macair Operations for LAER (Lineas Aereas Entre Rios)

Similar to Macair's operations for Aerochaco detailed in the posting of 04Nov12, the aircraft charter company also operates Jetstream 32EP's for LAER (Lineas Aereas Entre Rios) from Buenos Aires to points in Corrientes and Entre Rios provinces, both to the north/northwest of the Argentine capital.  

These routes are for local and business travelers plus foreign tourists looking to fish in Corrientes, for example.  There is also a route to the resort city of Necochea in southwestern Buenos Aires province.      

The routes and frequencies flown include: 

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Parana, Entre Rios (PRA), 6x/weekly

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Parana, Entre Rios (PRA) - Goya, Corrientes (OYA), 1x/weekly

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Concordia, Entre Rios (COC), 3x/weekly

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Concordia, Entre Rios (COC) - Goya, Corrientes (OYA), 2x/weekly

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Necochea (NEC), 2x/weekly

The airline is planning to soon extend flights from Goya (OYA) to Reconquista (RCQ) and Mercedes (MDX) near the Esteros del Ibera marshlands tourist area.

LAER dates back to 1967 and has flown aircraft as diverse as the Argentine small transport FMA IA-50 Guarani II, Jetstream 31, ATR-42-320, and F.28-1000.   

For a view of these aircraft types, click the www.airliners.net links below:

Jetstream 31:


ATR- 42-320: 


F.28-1000:


Another aircraft charter company, Flying America, previously operated two Metro III's for LAER as illustrated below:

Flying America Fairchild Swearingen SA-227AC Metro III, LV-YIC, (c/n AC-448) rests at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 10Jul10.     

Flying America Fairchild Swearingen SA-227AC Metro III, LV-BGH, (c/n AC-467) being towed at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 24Sep10. 

Former LAER Jetstream 31, LV-VEI, (c/n 830) sits dismantled at Moron Airport (MOR) west of Buenos Aires on 10Oct12.  

Sources:  http://www.flyingamerica.com.ar/
                 http://www.airliners.net
                 Aviacion News
                 LV - Lima Victor magazine 
              Wikipedia

Photos:    Phil Perry

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Six Leased PLUNA CRJ-900's to Return to Canada by End of November

Diario La Republica of Uruguay reports that the Uruguayan registrations of the six former PLUNA CRJ-900's that were leased will soon be cancelled and the aircraft flown back to Canada by Canadian pilots during the course of November with all aircraft due to be returned by the end of the month.   

The aircraft in question are:

CX-CRH (c/n 15233)
CX-CRI (c/n 15234)
CX-CRK (c/n 15239)
CX-CRL (c/n 15273)
CX-CRM (c/n 15274)
CX-CRN (c/n 15275)

Sources: http://www.diariolarepublica.net/2012/11/buscando-en-la-region/ 
             via http://cabeceranorte.blogspot.com.ar
                http://www.planespotters.net/Airline/PLUNA
                http://www.rjet.ca/blog/2012/10/09/historical-crj-operators-pluna/

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Macair Operations for Aerochaco - Profile & Photos


Macair Jetstream 32EP, LV-ZPZ, (c/n 931) with Aerochaco titles and rear fuselage design   


 Macair Jetstream 32EP, LV-ZPW, (c/n 861) with "Macair Jet" titles 


Macair Jetstream 32EP, LV-ZOW, (c/n 869) with no titles 


Macair Jetstream 32EP, LV-ZRL, (c/n 928) with no titles


The four aircraft above were all photographed at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) early on the morning of Sunday, 06Feb11, operating tourist charters to Iguazu Falls (IGR).  The editor of this blog does not know who they were operating on behalf of.  Note the "M" tail logo on all of the planes. 

Macair is an Argentine aircraft charter company that operates executive and group charters plus emergency medical flights using a fleet of Learjets, a Citation, and a Gulfstream G-IV from its Buenos Aires - Aeroparque (AEP) base.  

The company also operates Jetstream 32's on behalf of Aerochaco, an Argentine carrier that is the state airline of the northern province of Chaco.  Some sources indicate that Macair operates six Jetstreams but research by the editor of this blog only turned up four such aircraft currently in the Macair fleet.  

These aircraft operate scheduled services on behalf of Aerochaco on several routes with only one route including the city of Resistencia, the capital of Chaco.  Scheduled routes include:

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Villa Maria (VMA) - 2x/weekly

Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Sunchales (NCJ) - 5x/weekly

Cordoba (COR) - Sunchales (NCJ) - Resistancia (RES) - 3x/weekly

Cordoba (COR) - Villa Maria (VMA) - Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - 1x/weekly

Cordoba is the capital of Cordoba province and the second-largest city in Argentina with 1.2 million people.  It is in the heart of one of the nation's most important and productive farm regions and home to several prominent educational institutions.     

Villa Maria is the third-largest city in Cordoba province (after Rio Cuarto) with a population of 70,000 and metro area of 140,000, also in the heart of farm country.  

Sunchales is a small city (18,000 people) in Santa Fe province to the north of Cordoba in the heart of dairy country and home to SanCor, a large cooperative that turns out 20% of Argentina's dairy production.  

Macair also flew MD-87, LV-BZH (c/n 49780) on charter flights on behalf of Aerochaco with the airline's titles and special sticker "Official Airline of Boca Juniors" professional soccer club.  It also flew without the titles or sticker as illustrated below.  The aircraft left the Macair fleet approx. late 2010.
Macair Jet MD-87, LV-BZH, (c/n 49780/1674) at Aeroparque on 01Aug10

The same aircraft with Aerochaco titles and soccer team sticker: 


Aerochaco flew another MD-87, LV-BSC, (c/n 49727/1621), which was reportedly leased from Flying America and not Macair as shown here:

Sources:  http://www.macairjet.com.ar
              http://www.aerochaco.com.ar
              www.airliners.net
              www.airfleets.net
              www.wikipedia.org
      
Photos:    Phil Perry