Sunday, December 28, 2014

HISTORICAL PHOTOS: September 25, 4th Anniversary of Austral EMB-190AR in Service

Austral celebrated the 4th anniversary of Embraer 190AR regional jet service on 25Sep14.  The first two aircraft, LV-CDY (c/n 365) and LV-CDZ (c/n 377), were delivered to Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 20Sep10 as pictured below.       

Austral, sister airline to Aerolineas Argentinas, currently has 22 Embraer 190's in service flying domestic Argentine routes and regional services to neighboring countries Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.  

The original order for 20 airframes was delivered in the year between September 2010 and 2011 with a follow-up order of two more examples being delivered in September and October 2013.  

All of the airline's Embraer 190's are equipped with 8 first-class and 88 economy-class seats and are powered by two GE CF34-10E6 engines.  

The first commercial service operated by an Austral Embraer 190 was flight AR2652 from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Neuquen (NQN) on 25Sep10.

As of 25Sep14, the Embraer 190 fleet had accumulated approx. 189,922 hours and 131,572 cycles.

LV-CDY during a low flypast over Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on its delivery flight from the Embraer factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo, Brazil in the late afternoon of 20Sep10.  (Phil Perry Photo) 

Minutes later, LV-CDZ followed with its own low flypast over AEP.  (Phil Perry Photo)

After its flypast, LV-CDY lands on Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) runway 13 for the first-ever touchdown of an Austral Embraer 190 on Argentine soil.  (Phil Perry Photo)  

LV-CDZ follows LV-CDY a few minutes later.  (Phil Perry Photo) 


Friday, December 26, 2014

Proposed Spanish Start-Up "Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas" receives first A340, plans service to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) & Other Destinations

The proposed new Spanish carrier, Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas, received the first of two planned A340-313X's, A9C-LG (c/n 212), on September 1.  The aircraft was painted in the airline's full colors as seen in the photo below:

The plane was originally delivered to Singapore Airlines in 1998 and transferred to Gulf Air in 2003 but was stored in June 2011, most recently at Amman, Jordan's Queen Alia Airport.  It is due to be re-registered as EC-MDG.

Sistership A9C-LH, (c/n 215), has an identical history, having also been delivered to Singapore, flown with Gulf Air and stored in Jordan.  It is also due to join Plus Ultra.

Plus Ultra was established in 2011 by former Air Madrid director Julio Miguel Martinez Sola with the intention of flying long-haul flights from Madrid (MAD) to Latin America, including Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE), Bogota, Havana, and Santiago, much in the same fashion as Air Madrid did from 2003 to 2006, with A330's and a single A340.  However, the airline has yet to start flying and its website barely has any information on it:  If it launches service, Plus Ultra will face stiff competition from Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa and Iberia. 

"Plus Ultra" is the national motto of Spain, which in Latin means "further beyond".  

A Dornier Do J flying boat named "Plus Ultra" flew the first transatlantic flight from Spain to South America in 1926, completing the four-day journey from Palo de las Fronteras, Spain to Buenos Aires, Argentina on January 26.  The aircraft is currently on display in the Carriage Museum in Lujan, Argentina, near Buenos Aires.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ROUTE UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas operates sporadic flights from Mendoza (MDZ) and Trelew (REL) to Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU)

Aerolineas Argentinas 737-7Q8, LV-CMK (c/n 28240/832) operated the inaugural Trelew (REL) - Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) flight on 18Oct14. It is seen here landing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 14Aug14. (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas recently tried some flights from "interior" points of Argentina, specifically Mendoza (MDZ) and Trelew (REL) directly to Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU), bypassing the usual connections through Buenos Aires.  The flights were promoted as a joint initiative with the provinces of Mendoza and city of Trelew, respectively. 

Only nine flights were operated from Mendoza (MDZ) during the June - August period after which they were cancelled due to light loads.  

The Trelew (REL) flights were reportedly operated in October and November to coincide with the whale-watching season in the hopes of bringing Brazilian tourists directly to the region.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Former Air Class Uruguay EMB-110P1 Bandeirante, CX-VIP, in Wheels-Up Landing in Brazil

Air Class EMB-110P1 Bandeirante, CX-VIP, (c/n 110-258) in April 2003. (Phil Perry Collection)

EMB-110P1 Bandeirante, PT-TAW (c/n 110-258) operated by Taxi Aereo Ribeiro performed a wheels-up belly landing in a corn field near the Foz de Iguacu Airport (IGU) while operating a flight from Curitiba (CWB) on 28Jul14. None of the four occupants was hurt but the aircraft's fuselage and propellers suffered extensive damage.  

The aircraft was first delivered to Finnaviation as OH-EBC in April 1980 and continued to fly in Finland for Wasa Wings, Air Botnia, and Skaergardsflyg AB until 2000 when it went to Aero VIP of Uruguay as CX-VIP and Air Class before finally joining Taxi Aereo Ribeiro.

In Uruguay, the Bandeirante flew Mail Contract flights for DHL and flew frequently between Montevideo (MVD) and both Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and Aeroparque (AEP).  

Photo of the aircraft after the belly landing:   


Friday, December 19, 2014

Former Argentine Air Force 707-387B, TC-91, Painted in Lufthansa Colors for Movie

Former Fuerza Aerea Argentina 707-387B, TC-91 (c/n 21070/897) was recently painted in 1970's Lufthansa colors for filming of the movie "Colonia Dignidad" starring English actress Emma Watson.  The movie is based on events surrounding the 1973 Chilean military coup.  The aircraft was painted at El Palomar Air Force Base where some of the filming has taken place.       

TC-91 was delivered to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina on 11Jun75 where it flew for the Argentine Presidential Flight as T-01 until it was converted to a -387C configuration in June 1977 and joined the regular Fuerza Aerea Argentina fleet of 707's.  The aircraft went on to serve with Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE) from 1996 until 2005/2006 when it operated some of the last 707 passenger services worldwide.  TC-91 has reportedly been at El Palomar ever since.

Photo of TC-91 in Lufthansa colors:


Monday, December 15, 2014

ROUTE UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas presents 2015 Route Additions

Aerolineas Argentinas recently announced its 2015 route changes including several new international flights and a lot of new service connecting "interior" points of Argentina directly to each other without having to fly though Buenos Aires.  

Much of the new domestic service overlaps with routes that until recently were flown by SOL Lineas Aereas with their Saab 340's. 

New service includes:


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

Eff 02Jan15 with 6x/weekly flights increasing to daily on 01Mar15 using 737-800's

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Quito (UIO) & Guayaquil (GYE)

Effective in April using 737-800's (?)

The above services are in addition to the new flights to Havana (HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ) and additional flights to Cancun (CUN) all effective in January 2015 for the Argentine summer vacation periods as announced in a previous posting.


* Cordoba (COR) - El Calafate (FTE):

3x/weekly using 737-700's from 01Jan15 - 28Feb15 (seasonal service)

* Rosario (ROS) - Bariloche (BRC):

3x/weekly using Embraer 190's from 01Jan15  - 28Feb15 (seasonal service)
Rosario (ROS) - El Calafate (FTE)

6x/weekly 737-700's eff 02Mar15

* Cordoba (COR) - Tucuman (TUC)

2x/weekly 737-700, 1x/weekly Embraer 190 eff 03Mar15

Rio Gallegos (RGL) - Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD)

1x/daily 737-800 eff 01Jul15  

* Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Bahia Blanca (BHI)
* Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - San Luis(LUQ)
Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Santiago del Estero (SDE)

All of the above routes will see one additional daily flight effective in July. 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

FLEET UPDATE: LAN Argentina takes delivery of its 12th A320-233, LV-FUX

LAN Argentina took delivery of its 12th A320-233, LV-FUX (c/n 4543) from parent company LAN Airlines on 29Oct14.  The A320 was first delivered to LAN on 15Jan11 and also flew for LAN Ecuador prior to its recent transfer to LAN Argentina.

LV-FUX will replace another LAN Argentina A320 while it is undergoing heavy maintenance so its stay in Argentina might be short-lived once the aircraft being worked on is returned to service.  In recent times, the Argentine government has not allowed LAN Argentina to bring in any more aircraft, even on a temporary basis to replace those undergoing maintenance but this policy has apparently been relaxed.     


Thursday, December 11, 2014

ROUTE UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas adding Seasonal Flights to Cancun (CUN), Havana ((HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ)

Aerolineas Argentinas will add seasonal flights from Buenos Aires Ezeiza to Cancun (CUN), Havana (HAV) and Punta Cana (PUJ) in January using 737-800's serving the Argentine summer vacation market.  Aerolineas already serves Cancun (CUN) with 2x/weekly A340 flights. 

The flights will make a technical stop in Caracas (CCS) for refueling with no local traffic rights between Venezuela and the final destinations.  Even so, it has been written that the flights will be weight-restricted to 145 passengers (out of a total of 170 seats) to conserve fuel due to the long stage length between Buenos Aires and Caracas. This is a little surprising to the editor of this blog given that COPA flies 737-700/800 between Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and Panama City (PTY), a similar distance to the Aerolineas' Caribbean routes, without any weight restrictions as far as the editor knows. 

Initially, it was rumored that the flights would stop in Manaus (MAO), probably enabling the 737-800's to operate without load restrictions (because it is closer to Buenos Aires), but this was apparently changed to Caracas because the Venezuelan government owes billions of US$ to foreign airlines for tickets that they have sold in the country, including Aerolineas Argentinas, and this is an alternative way of "paying back" the airline with fuel credits.     

These routes are designed to gain market share from COPA and LAN, both of which have been successful in the Argentina - Caribbean summer travel market.

Aviacion News reports that Aerolineas is apparently using the 737-800 in these markets, despite their range limitations, because it has taken delivery of several -800's lately with a limited number of viable destinations to operate them to due to the Argentine economy being in a mild recession.      

The 737-800 flights will operate as follows:

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Caracas (CCS) - Cancun (CUN), 2x/weekly, effective 05Jan15, Mon & Fri    

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Caracas (CCS) - Havana (HAV), 2x/weekly, effective 04Jan15, Wed & Sun  

Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Caracas (CCS) - Punta Cana (PUJ), 3x/weekly, effective 03Jan15, Tue, Thu & Sat  

Sources: via Eric Trum via Eric Trum

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SOL Lineas Aereas Cuts Back Service & Disposes of One Saab 340A

SOL Lineas Aereas Saab 340A, LV-BTP (c/n 131), left the fleet in August 2014 to Sky Bahamas. Here it is seen at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 20Sep10.  (Phil Perry Photo)

SOL Lineas Aereas has cut back service significantly in 2014, including the elimination of flights to cities in the Patagonia region of southern Argentina, such as Bariloche (BRC), Esquel (EQS), and Ushuaia (USH) in May and the "Corredor Petrolero" (Oil Route) linking Cordoba (COR), Mendoza (MDZ) and Neuquen (NQN) in July.  Some of these airports had been served by SOL since 2010 but increased competition from Aerolineas Argentinas and sister carrier Austral that have introduced their own "circle" routes connecting "interior" points of Argentina using the Embraer 190 have had their impact on SOL.       

On May 15, the airline cut the last two points of its "Atlantic Coast" route extending from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Mar del Plata (MDQ), Bahia Blanca (BHI), Trelew (REL), Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD), Rio Gallegos (RGL) and Rio Grande (RGA), the latter point located in the southernmost region of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego.  Trelew and Comodoro Rivadavia, both located in the province of Chubut, were set to be cut on November 1 too, but the governor of Chubut agreed to extend the fuel subsidy to SOL that was set to expire on that date.

SOL's primary routes linking Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), Rosario (ROS), Santa Fe (SFN) and Mar del Plata (MDQ) are being retained with seasonal service to Villa Gesell (VLG) and from Rosario (ROS) to Punta del Este (PDP) also planned.  

Contrary to the service reductions, SOL reintroduced service to San Luis (LUQ) on November 1, 6x/weekly with flights to Villa Mercedes (VME) and Villa de Merlo also likely. All three airports are in the province of San Luis in central Argentina.

The service cutbacks have led to the layoffs of 19 pilots and the disposal of one of its Saab 340A's, LV-BTP (c/n 131), which left the fleet to Sky Bahamas in August 2014.  SOL currently has the following Saab 340's in its fleet:

LV-CEI  (c/n 12) 340A 
LV-BEW (c/n 150) 340A
LV-CSK (c/n 168) 340B
LV-CYC (c/n 310) 340B


Sunday, December 7, 2014

BQB Lineas Aereas Cutting Back Services, Laying Off Workers & Reducing Fleet

BQB Lineas Aereas, which as recently as the first half of 2014 was planning to increase service, has cancelled expansion plans and sharply reduced existing services.

The airline, based in Montevideo (MVD), was flying a leased A320 followed by a leased A319 to Santiago (SCL), Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) earlier this year but now has canceled these routes and apparently returned the A319 to the lessor.  In addition, BQB has sold two of its four ATR-72-212A's though the editor of this blog has not been able to confirm which ones. 55 staff have been laid off (made redundant) and all Brazilian routes canceled including Porto Alegre (POA) and Curitiba (CWB). 

The airline is currently only flying the services that it started out with, such as its most important route, Montevideo (MVD) to Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) plus Montevideo (MVD) to Asuncion (ASU) and domestic flights to Rivera (RVY) and Salto (STY).  

BQB claims that the reductions are not as a result of financial difficulties but are necessary measures to adjust to changes in the marketplace.  However, IATA (International Air Transport Association) suspended the airline for a time in August from its ticket clearinghouse whereby funds collected by airlines on behalf of other carriers on common tickets are redistributed to the operating carrier.  This would suggest that BQB was retaining funds that it should have forwarded to IATA.  This situation appears to have since been resolved but the editor of this blog has no confirmation of that. 

Separately, the Uruguayan Civil Aviation Direcorate (DINACIA) is investigating a tail-strike incident involving a BQB ATR-72-212A in Salto (STY) on 09Dec11 that went unreported. 



Friday, December 5, 2014

FLEET UPDATE: Seven former PLUNA CRJ-900's Sale Details finalized, Aircraft to leave Uruguay in coming months

The seven former company-owned PLUNA CRJ-900's that have been parked at Montevideo (MVD) since the July 2012 shutdown of the defunct Uruguayan national airline have reportedly been definitively sold to Strategic Air Finance of Florida who will pass them along to Nordic Aviation Capital of Denmark.

The aircraft sale was agreed to on a provisional basis between the bankruptcy liquidators and Strategic Air Finance in July for US$ 77 million for all seven airframes subject to inspection of the planes.  Reviewing the CRJ-900's, two were found to have defects requiring maintenance and / or repair but more significantly, nine of the fourteen engines on the planes will need work before they can be put back in service.  To compensate for the costs involved, the sale price of the planes has been reduced by US$ 6.3 million to US$ 70.7 million.

Each aircraft will be paid for and delivered one at a time so it appears that the aircraft sale price may still vary if any new defects are found when the maintenance staff start working on them. The CRJ-900's will likely start leaving Montevideo (MVD) sometime in the next few weeks with all of them likely gone by early 2015.

Nordic Aviation Capital will presumably lease the CRJ-900's to airlines worldwide. 

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)


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FLEET UPDATE: Several Aerolineas Argentinas A340-211's left the fleet in recent months

A340-312, LV-BMT (c/n 48), which had left Aerolineas service in November 2013 was scrapped at the Goodyear, Arizona airport in July.  The aircraft entered service in 1994 with Air Mauritius and also flew with Air Jamaica and Air Canada before joining Aerolineas in 2007.    

A340-211, LV-ZPX (c/n 80), flew from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Victorville (VCV) airport in California on 13Aug14.  The aircraft had been stored at EZE since May 2014 in basic Aerolineas colors but without titles.  This aircraft is noteworthy for having operated the last Aerolineas Argentinas service to Sydney (SYD) on 01Apr14 and some unusual charters, such as the high-level Argentine government group to Vietnam on 26Oct12.   
A340-211, LV-ZPJ (c/n 74) left Argentina on 21Aug14 to Victorville having been stored since May 2014.  

A340-211, LV-ZPO (c/n 63) flew its last commercial service for Aerolineas on 05Sep14 and wasted no time in leaving Argentina for Victorville on 08Sep14. The timing of the aircraft's retirement was reportedly due to its requiring a major check, an expensive procedure which would have been uneconomical taking into consideration the aircraft's age and reduced market value.   

A340-211, LV-ZRA (c/n 85), the last of the four A340-200 series taken delivery of by Aerolineas in 1999, was stored in March 2014 and is reportedly still parked at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE).  

All four of the above A340-211's were delivered to Cathay Pacific in 1994/95 and flew for Philippine Airlines prior to joining the Aerolineas fleet in 1999.  They are being replaced on Aerolineas' long-haul routes by A330's.  There are few A340-200 series left in service worldwide.  
Aerolineas still operates several A340-300 series and there have been rumors during the last year that one A340 would be retained for use by the Fuerza Aerea Argentina, presumably in a VIP transport role.

This blog's editor thanks Linea ALA for the complete information on the recent movements of the above aircraft.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Alas Uruguay: Continues to Organize, Receiving One 737-300 in December

Alas Uruguay, the airline being started by former PLUNA employees, continues to organize with the start-up reportedly being in the second of five steps of certification by the Uruguayan Civil Aviation Directorate (DINACIA - Direccion Nacional de Aviacion Civil e Infraestructura Aeronautica) as of October.  

The carrier is said to have leased one 134/138-seat 737-300 from Ukraine with up to three more expected from the U.S.  The first example, reportedly UR-GAN (c/n 28569/2996) and currently operating with Ukraine International Airlines, is due in Montevideo (MVD) on December 15.  Typical lease payments for this type of aircraft range from US$ 80,000 - 130,000 monthly. 

Alas plans to start with charter flights followed by scheduled services to some of the former destinations operated to by PLUNA, some of which are currently served by BQB Lineas Aereas. These would include Asuncion, Paraguay, Santiago, Chile and several Brazilian points, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, but the "make-or-break" route for Alas will be the highly-profitable "Air Bridge" between Montevideo (MVD) and Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP).  Alas considers itself the successor airline to PLUNA and appears to be assuming that it will inherit the latter's route rights but some of the MVD-AEP slots have been granted to BQB, albeit on a temporary basis, while most of them have been taken over by Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral.  Taking the rights from BQB will presumably not be easy and negotiating with the Argentine authorities will be even more difficult. 

Alas' marketing strategy remains to be seen and will largely depend on the routes it operates but there has been talk of agreements with the Amadeus and SABRE global distribution systems.  

The carrier is being organized as a cooperative starting with 50 employees with eventual plans for 225 staff.  Start-up funding will come primarily from a US$ 15 million loan from the FONDES Uruguayan government development fund to be granted in five installments subject to the carrier meeting performance goals. The fund has already handed over the first installment of US$ 400,000.  The government has also declared Alas Uruguay to be of "national interest" qualifying the airline for tax exemptions.