Alas-U, the airline being formed by former PLUNA workers, recently came to an agreement to purchase three of the former flag carrier's CRJ-900's that are owned by the trust formed by the Uruguayan government after the collapse of PLUNA.
The Uruguayan government guaranteed the loans given to purchase the aircraft by ScotiaBank. It has given Alas-U a two-year grace period during which the government will continue making the payments but after that the airline will need to pay US$ 47 million over a ten-year period.
The Fondo de Desarrollo (FONDES) development fund approved the US$ 15 million loan to Alas-U that had been pending for months and will start to hand over the cash in installments shortly. The three CRJ-900's will act as the guarantee for the loan and will be subject to being returned to the trust should Alas-U fail to make the loan payments. An independent consultant will be contracted to maintain the government informed of developments and monitor the airline's adherence to the business plan presented to the FONDES.
The airline has started the process of getting its operating certificate from the DINACIA (national civil aviation regulatory body) which the agency has 180 days to complete. Unless the licensing is speeded up, Alas-U will not be able to start service until March 2014 when the peak summer season for visitors to Uruguay will be finished.
This is very disappointing to the Uruguayan tourism industry as it was hoped that the airline would be up-and-running providing seats to bring in tourists and help keep airfares in check. This will be the second summer without a substantial presence by a Uruguayan airline in the market although BQB Lineas Aereas has helped fill the gap.