Thursday, October 20, 2016

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Amaszonas Uruguay started CRJ-200 Service between Montevideo (MVD) and Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 05Oct16

Amaszonas Uruguay, the Uruguayan affiliate of Amaszonas Group of Bolivia, operated its inaugural flight as a company and also on the Montevideo (MVD) - Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) route on 28Sep16, which was largely ceremonial in nature with 50 invited guests filling the 50 seats of the carrier's sole CRJ-200, including members of the press, travel agents, government officials, and the presidents of Amaszonas Group, Sergio de Urioste, and Amaszonas Uruguay, Carlos Pera.        

Regular commercial service started between MVD and AEP on 05Oct16 with 2x/daily flights operated by its CRJ-200 joining Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral and Alas Uruguay on the route. The carrier eventually plans to operate six CRJ-200's and up to 70 weekly flights between the two cities, also adding service from Montevideo (MVD) to Curitiba (CWB), Porto Alegre (POA), and Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU), all in Brazil, plus seasonal flights between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and the Uruguayan summer resort of Punta del Este (PDP).   


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: Alas Uruguay returns one 737-300, drops Asuncion (ASU), might return 2nd 737-300

Alas Uruguay continues to soldier on flying the Montevideo (MVD) - Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) route 2x/daily on most days but recently returned 737-33R, CX-OAB (c/n 28869/2887) to lessor Aergo Group and it also stopped flying its only other route from Montevideo (MVD) to Asuncion (ASU).  

CX-OAB flew directly from Montevideo (MVD) to Santiago (SCL) on 24Aug16 where it has joined the fleet of Chilean carrier Latin American Wings. Additionally, Alas Uruguay was at one point without any operational aircraft for several days in late September while 737-36N, CX-OAA (c/n 28569/2996) was out of service pending some work and the only other plane in the carrier's fleet 737-36N, CX-OAC (c/n 28563/2921) had a defective wing part with no replacement available until a few days later when a spare arrived from the United States.

As of August, the airline had a load factor of 53%, lower than the break-even number of 67%, but still above the level projected in the carrier's business plan at this stage in its history.  65% of Alas' passengers are Uruguayan but the number of Argentines traveling on the airline is expected to go up as it becomes better known in that country.       

In addition to stiff competition from Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral on the Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Montevideo (MVD) "Air Bridge", Alas Uruguay also has a new competitor on the route, Amaszonas Uruguay, the new Uruguayan affiliate of the Bolivian carrier Amaszonas, that is operating 2x/daily CRJ-200 service between the two cities.      

The latest rumors are that CX-OAA might be returned to GECAS soon since the one remaining aircraft would be enough to operate the "Air Bridge" 2x/daily flights, although that would leave no room to spare in case of a mechanical problem with the plane, in which case passengers would have to be redirected to the other two carriers on the route.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: Argentine Presidential Fleet being Retired + Current Status + Historical Photos

Republica Argentina 757-23A, T-01 (c/n 25487/470), taxiing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 01Oct10.  (Phil Perry Photo)

The Argentine government announced in January that nearly the entire fleet of presidential transport aircraft; the 757-200 (T-01) F.28-4000 (T-02) F.28-1000 (T-03) and 737-500 (T-04) would be retired from service in the following months, mainly due to the cost of maintaining the aging fleet, especially the F.28's since spare parts for these are increasingly difficult to find.  The only presidential aircraft being retained is Learjet 60, T-10 (c/n 60-140), a relatively young aircraft having been delivered in 1998.      

After the January announcement, T-01 was flown to El Palomar Air Force Base on the outskirts of the city of Buenos Aires for storage.  The aircraft was purchased by the Argentine government directly from Boeing in 1992 for $ 60 million and has only logged 11,000 hours but it is due for extensive maintenance, including a heavy C-Check on its airframe plus major work on its engines and landing gears and updating of avionics and other electronics.  Total cost of the work would come to $ 20 million, more than the value of the aircraft itself, so it is being put up for sale, probably for spare parts.

Republica Argentina F.28-4000M, T-02 (c/n 11203) taxis at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 10Jul10.  (Phil Perry Photo)

T-02 was first delivered to Argentina in 1999 and has flown faithfully until recent times when it has been largely inoperative, apparently due to budgetary reasons and sporadic spare parts availability.  For example, in 2012, T-02 was only operational for seven days the whole year.  More recently, the aircraft was returning from Cordoba (COR) on 02Aug16 with Argentine President Mauricio Macri and two cabinet members aboard, when the starboard engine experienced thrust problems forcing the crew to shut it down and operate the remaining part of the flight on one engine.

The aircraft is still operational but it is questionable for how long.

Republica Argentina F.28-1000M, T-03 (c/n 11028), takes off from Aeroparque's runway 31 on 03Oct10.  (Phil Perry Photo)

T-03 is parked at El Palomar and is no longer in service.  It was only operational for 107 days in 2012.  

Republica Argentina 737-500, T-04 (c/n 26456/2527), landing at Aeroparque on 11Oct15.  (Phil Perry Photo)

T-04 was originally delivered to Malaysian Airlines System in 1993 and flew for Air France and other operators before joining Aerolineas Argentinas on 11Oct04. 

Aerolineas was due to return the aircraft to the lessor in 2014 but the maintenance work required prior to its return was going to cost more than the value of the aircraft itself so the airline bought the plane and passed it on to the Argentine presidential fleet where it would see limited flying hours compared to airline service.  However, with the accumulation of deferred maintenance items, the plane has finally been taken out of service and also parked at El Palomar with its engines removed.    

Soft-focus shot of Republica Argentina Learjet 60, T-10 (c/n 60-140) taking off from Aeroparque on 17Mar16.  (Phil Perry Photo)

This aircraft is frequently used by Argentine President Mauricio Macri for travel within Argentina.  
Photo of T-03 (c/n 11028) during one of the times that it was operated as T-01 between 1970 and 1975 and again between 1977 and 1992. (Phil Perry Collection)

Another photo of T-03 (c/n 11028) when it had already become T-03 but with a different color scheme than the current one.  (Phil Perry Collection)