Thursday, January 26, 2017
NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Avianca Argentina Tucuman (TUC) Hub Plans & Receives First ATR-72-600
The formation of Avianca Argentina was announced in early 2016 with plans to start service in 2017 using six ATR-72-600's focusing on hubs in Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Cordoba (COR) on the basis of a US$ 320 million investment.
Tucuman (TUC) Hub
There have been new developments since then including plans to establish a hub at the airport of the northern Argentine city of Tucuman (TUC) using 3-4 ATR-72-600's operating up to 25 daily flights connecting cities in central and eastern Argentina with northern and western communities, including Salta (SLA) 5x/day, Cordoba 3x/day, Catamarca (CTC), La Rioja (IRJ), Mendoza (MDZ), Posadas (PSS), Puerto Iguazu (IGR), Resistencia (RES), Rosario (ROS), San Juan (UAQ), and Santiago del Estero (SDE).
International connections would also be operated, including Asuncion (ASU), Florianopolis (FLN), Santa Cruz de la Sierra (VVI) and possibly Iguique (IQQ) and Lima (LIM), the latter presumably by sister carrier Avianca Peru using ERJ-190's.
The Tucuman (TUC) hub would start in July 2017 after a 90-day period during which the airport would be closed while it underwent a major maintenance and upgrade project.
Tucuman Subsidy & Potential Problems
Establishing the hub would entail a US$ 80 million investment and create 250 jobs with the province of Tucuman providing US$ 5-15 million in guarantees for flights falling short of 65% load factors.
This subsidy might run into opposition from the Argentine national government, which is trying to move away from the heavy subsidies of various industries by the previous presidency, especially with regard to air transportation where Aerolineas Argentinas has received billions (thousands of millions) of US$ in subsidies since its re-nationalization in 2008. Also, other carriers serving Tucuman (TUC) might demand equal treatment although the Tucuman government has responded that they offered other airlines similar incentives as Avianca Argentina to operate on less-traveled routes but the carriers were only interested in flying the profitable mainline trunk routes between major cities.
Public Route Hearings - December 27
Most recently, Avianca Argentina, along with four other airlines; Alas del Sur, American Jet, Andes Lineas Aereas and Flybondi, submitted route requests at public route hearings conducted by the ANAC Argentine aviation authority on December 27.
Surprisingly, the 16 routes that Avianca Argentina requested did not include any flights to the proposed Cordoba (COR) and Tucuman (TUC) hubs, much less the multiple services that would be consistent with hub operations, with the focus instead being on flights emanating from Buenos Aires. However, there will apparently be a second round of hearings in March, during which routes from Cordoba (COR) and Tucuman (TUC) are expected to be requested, probably for starting service later in the year after the Buenos Aires routes have been established.
The routes requested on December 27:
1) BUENOS AIRES – SANTA FE – BUENOS AIRES
2) BUENOS AIRES – ROSARIO – BUENOS AIRES
3) BUENOS AIRES – PUERTO MADRYN – BUENOS AIRES
4) BUENOS AIRES – VIEDMA – PUERTO MADRYN – BUENOS AIRES
5) BUENOS AIRES – MAR DEL PLATA – BUENOS AIRES
6) BUENOS AIRES – PUERTO MADRYN – COMODORO RIVADAVIA – PUERTO MADRYN – BUENOS AIRES
7) BUENOS AIRES – MONTEVIDEO – BUENOS AIRES
8) BUENOS AIRES – SAN LUIS – RÍO CUARTO – BUENOS AIRES
9) BUENOS AIRES – SANTA ROSA – BUENOS AIRES
10) BUENOS AIRES – BAHÍA BLANCA – BUENOS AIRES
11) BUENOS AIRES – CONCORDIA – PASO DE LOS LIBRES – BUENOS AIRES
12) BUENOS AIRES – CONCORDIA – PARANÁ – BUENOS AIRES
13) BUENOS AIRES – PORTO ALEGRE – BUENOS AIRES
14) BUENOS AIRES – SUNCHALES – RECONQUISTA – SUNCHALES – BUENOS AIRES
15) BUENOS AIRES – TANDIL – BUENOS AIRES
16) BUENOS AIRES – SUNCHALES – VILLA MARÍA – BUENOS AIRES
First ATR-72-600 Delivered
Avianca Argentina's first ATR-72-600, LV-GUG (c/n 1343) arrived at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on the evening of 18Jan17 from Punta del Este (PDP) where it had laid over the previous night on its multi-stop delivery flight from the Aerospatiale factory in Toulouse, France.