Former PLUNA CRJ-900, CX-CRG (c/n 15209) also flew with AeroVip and is one of the ex-PLUNA aircraft to be sold. (Phil Perry Photo)
The seven ex-PLUNA CRJ-900's that have been out of service in Montevideo (MVD) since PLUNA's shutdown in July 2012 (the carrier had thirteen CRJ-900's in all but the other six aircraft were leased and returned) will be put up for sale soon because the airline being formed to replace PLUNA, Alas Uruguayas, is no longer interested in the aircraft and is now seeking to lease 737-300's.
Between 30 and 40 technicians and maintenance staff have kept the CRJ-900's airworthy for the last 20 months, doing routine maintenance with the aircraft being flown occasionally to test all systems. Keeping the planes in fly-away condition has cost US$ 420,000 per month which has been paid by the trust set up to hold and oversee the former airline's assets.
There have been at least three parties interested in purchasing or brokering the CRJ-900's in the last year, including one that offered US$ 48 million for four of the aircraft, but the trust was different from ordinary trusts in that it was set up by a special law passed by the Uruguayan congress that separated the CRJ-900's from the assets accessible to creditors under the airline's bankruptcy proceedings.
However, that law was declared unconstitutional by the Uruguayan supreme court in November 2013 as the court considered it to violate creditors' rights.
On 09Jan14, the bankruptcy court placed the aircraft back in the group of assets to be used to settle creditor claims. Creditors to the former PLUNA include ANCAP, Uruguay's national oil company, for unpaid fuel bills and the hundreds, if not thousands of passengers that were left holding worthless tickets when the carrier shut down on July 6, 2012.
The loan to purchase the CRJ-900's has not been paid off, which would in most bankruptcy cases probably mean that proceeds from the sale of the aircraft would go to pay the outstanding debt, but the debt on the aircraft was guaranteed by the Uruguayan government which has been making US$ 8.8 million installment payments every six months to ScotiaBank of Canada and apparently will continue to be responsible for the overall US$ 203 million cost of the seven aircraft.
The CRJ-900's are expected to sell for between US$ 12 million and US$ 16 million each.
The seven aircraft are:
CX-CRA (c/n 15165)
CX-CRB (c/n 15169)
CX-CRC (c/n 15175)
CX-CRD (c/n 15180)
CX-CRE (c/n 15185)
CX-CRF (c/n 15204)
CX-CRG (c/n 15209)