Saturday, January 28, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: Austral MD-80's in Hybrid AeroMexico Livery All Gone

                                                     LV-BTI at AEP on 17Sep10

LV-BXA taxis after landing at AEP on 16Jan11

The three MD-80's that Austral operated in hybrid AeroMexico colors during the last few years have all been returned to the lessor.  They had a bare-metal fuselage, red and blue cheatline placed well below the windows, blue engines and tail plus "billboard" Austral titles.

LV-BTW was the first to leave the AU fleet on 02Sep11, followed by LV-BTI on 01Oct11.  The last to be returned was LV-BXA on 16Dec11 departing Aeroparque to Lima, San Jose de Costa Rica and Miami enroute to Victorville, California.  This aircraft spent nearly three years with Austral having entered the fleet on 19Mar09.     

Source: Linea ALA blog
Photos: Phil Perry

ROUTE UPDATES: Austral's Resumed Scheduled International Flights - Correction

Additional info to the 20Jan12 posting below is that Austral's first scheduled international flight (referring to the recently resumed international routes) was Flight AU2902 on 30Nov11 from Buenos Aires - Aeroparque to Montevideo flown by ERJ-190, LV-CID.

Source: Linea ALA blog 

Friday, January 20, 2012

PHOTO GALLERY: Government Aircraft at Buenos Aires - AEP - Part 2

The sudden death of former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner on October 27, 2010 brought many heads of state and dignitaries to Buenos Aires for his wake at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace the following day.   With Aeroparque located only about seven kilometers from the palace most of the visitors flew into this airport with the most important officials continuing by helicopter to the Casa Rosada. 

Some of the more interesting aircraft to visit AEP on October 28 and 29 were:

Fuerza Aerea Boliviana Dassault Falcon 900EX, FAB-001, c/n 209, departing AEP on 28Oct10 with Bolivian President Evo Morales aboard.

Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana 727-134, FAE-691, c/n 19691, taxis out in the late afternoon of 28Oct10 taking Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa back home.

Fuerza Aerea Colombiana 737-74V, FAC 0001, c/n 29272, with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos departs AEP on 29Oct10 after an overnight stay. 

Catamarca (Argentine province) Swearingen SA-227AC Metro III, LV-WEE, c/n AC-516, taxiing on the rainy afternoon of 29Oct10 .

Photos: Phil Perry

ROUTE UPDATES: Austral Operating Scheduled International Flights Again

Austral recently started flying internationally again after many years.  The carrier flew YS-11's from AEP to Montevideo, Uruguay (MVD) at least during the 1970's.  

The airline resumed international service with a flight from AEP to Punta del Este, Uruguay (PDP), a major South American summer resort, in late December 2011 with the flight operated by ERJ-190, LV-CEV.  

A second new route was added from AEP to Santiago de Chile (SCL) on 17Jan12 with the first flight operated by ERJ-190, LV-CPJ.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Aerolineas Argentinas 707-387B LV-ISD / T-95 - Correction

Carlos Abella of reports that the AR 707-387B pictured in the blog posting dated January 14 never flew for the Fuerza Aerea Guatemalteca and is still hangared today at El Palomar AFB near Buenos Aires.  Its last flight was in 2004.  Thanks Carlos !

ROUTE UPDATES: Argentina Summer Charters - Odds & Ends

ARJet 737-200, LV-ZYY, is reported to be operating charters out of AEP and EZE during the southern hemisphere summer.   The carrier has a small maintenance base at El Palomar Air Force Base just west of the city of Buenos Aires.

Leal Lineas Aereas started operations on 21Dec11 with a flight by its MD-83, LV-CSW, from AEP to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) on behalf of Flying America.


FLEET UPDATE: Sole Austral MD-83 Being Painted in New Colors - Never to Fly ?

Photos of Austral MD-83, LV-BGZ, c/n 49906/1786 in a hangar at AEP in the process of being painted in the carrier's new colors appeared on the blog on 20Nov11 but another blog reported that as of 05Jan12 the aircraft has been indefinitely stored after a "C" Check due to lack of spares.  

With Austral scheduled to retire all of its MD-80 fleet by April 1, LV-BGZ will likely be the only MD-80 painted in the airline's new colors and it is not even known if the repainting was completed.  That will certainly be a rare photo/slide !

Sunday, January 15, 2012

PHOTO GALLERY: Government Aircraft at Buenos Aires - AEP - Part 1

Photos of aircraft that brought South American leaders to Buenos Aires - Aeroparque on October 1, 2010 for an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which was then headed by ex-Argentine President Nestor Kirchner.  The meeting was prompted by a coup attempt against Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa the day before.

Forca Aerea Brasileira VC-99B (EMB-135BJ) registration FAB2583 taxis out at AEP.

Republica Bolivariana A319CJ, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's transport, taxiing to depart AEP.

The other side of Chavez's A319CJ with "Venezuela" titles as it rumbles down AEP's runway 13 for takeoff.

Gobierno de la Provincia de Buenos Aires Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, LV-WYZ, leaving AEP.  This aircraft was probably operating a routine flight unrelated to the UNASUR meeting but is of interest anyway !

Dirección de Aeronautica de la Provincia de Buenos Aires Cessna 441 Conquest II, LV-MMY on the taxiway.

All Photos: Phil Perry

ROUTE UPDATE: Commerical Flights to Bariloche (BRC) resume after Four Months

Airline flights resumed to Bariloche on January 13 after four months with no service  due to a combination of ashes in the atmosphere from the Puyehue Volcano in Chile and closure of the airport for maintenance work.   The first landing was by an Aerolineas Argentinas 737-500 operating flight AR1682 from Buenos Aires - Aeroparque.

Full schedules of commercial flights to BRC ceased on June 4, 2011 when the long-dormant volcano erupted with large amounts of ash blowing into the sky.  Since then, BRC only received five Aerolineas Argentinas flights for a short time in September and one or two other flights, such as by Andes Lineas Aereas, when the ash temporarily ceased. 

Bariloche is an Argentine city located on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi in the internationally-famous Patagonia region, with a major ski resort nearby, Cerro Catedral. BRC receives many charter flights directly from Brazil in the winter season from June through September but the volcanic ash caused many of these to be cancelled or routed to Esquel (EQS), some four hours south of BRC, with pax taken to Bariloche by ground transfers.

Source:  La Nacion newspaper

Andes Lineas Aereas Charter Spottings - Updated

Aircraft spotted operating charters for Andes Lineas Aereas:

Lineas Aereas del Sur, 737-236, LV-ZXC, c/n 23160/1053 at AEP on 04Jan12

Photo: (taken at another time)

Vueling A320, EC-JGM, at COR (Cordoba) on 05Jan12  


Spotting Sources:

ROUTE UPDATE: Iberia operated last Cordoba, Argentina to Madrid Scheduled Flight on January 14 - Updated

Iberia operated its last flight from COR to MAD on Saturday, January 14 after serving the route for a little more than fifteen months.  The Spanish airline started flying to Argentina's second-largest city on October 1, 2010 with the service being flown mostly by A340-300's but also with the larger A340-600.  The route was operated both non-stop to Madrid and via Rio de Janeiro's Galeao Airport (GIG).  At one point, there was talk of trying to save the route by having the flight stop in Asuncion (ASU) Paraguay but that did not materialize.

Aircraft that operated the last flight was A340-300 EC-LKS per

Below is a photo of Iberia A340-313 EC-GGS after finishing its landing run on COR's runway 18 on 21Apr11:

Info Sources:,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Andes CRJ-900's Short-Lived Life with the Airline

Andes leased two CRJ-900's from Bombardier in 2010 but only operated them for just over a year before returning them to the Canadian manufacturer in August 2011. 

They were operated mostly on scheduled routes from AEP (Buenos Aires - Aeroparque) to SLA (Salta), home base for the airline where it was first formed in the mid-2000's. One of the reasons for the return of the aircraft was seriously diminished passenger traffic due to the frequent closures of airspace across the center of Argentina (including Buenos Aires) caused by drifting ash from eruptions by the Puyehue volcano in Chile since early June 2011. This problem continues from time-to-time to this day though the volume of ash is considerably smaller than when the eruptions first took place.

Andes' scheduled routes have been taken up by the carrier's MD-80's but the airline's main business is its charter operations.

Pictured above landing on AEP's runway 13 is Andes CRJ-900 LV-CFD on 10Oct10.  The plane, which was originally delivered to Atlasjet in 2006, was delivered to Andes on 07Jun10 and returned on 13Aug11.

LV-CGW was delivered to Andes on 29Sep10 but returned to Bombardier on 13Aug11. Here it is pictured taxiing for takeoff at AEP on 29Jan11.

Photos: Phil Perry

Aerolineas Argentinas 707-387B at EZE in 1968 - Updated

Author of this blog Phil Perry (boy in the middle) with (from left) his mother Virginia, sister Ginny and older brother Ted just having deplaned from Aerolineas Argentinas 707-387B, LV-ISD at EZE on 14Mar68 (thanks to the photographer for having shot the aircraft registration even though I am sure he was not even aware of it !).  Note that it mistakenly says 707-320B on the side of the aircraft.

Also note the formal dress that was still customary when traveling back in the 60's with even I, as a young boy, wearing a coat and tie !  Not the most comfortable way to fly !  My recollection is that the routing was JFK-GIG-EZE.

This aircraft first flew on 08Feb67 and was delivered to Aerolineas on 24Feb67.  It was transferred to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina on 18Jan83 and also went on to fly with PLUNA and the Fuerza Aerea Guatemalteca.  It was stored at El Palomar AFB near Buenos Aires on 25Jun04 reportedly in good condtion but "time-expired".   Overhaul work for pax configuration was started but the "D" check was abandoned in 2007 when 80% completed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Many Austral Pilots refusing to fly ERJ-190's

 Austral ERJ-190 LV-CHR at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 22Jan11
(Phil Perry Photo) 

The Austral pilots' union, UALA, voted on January 3 to discontinue "converting" to the 20 new ERJ-190's that the airline acquired in 2010 and 2011.   

The new type was planned to replace the airline's MD-80 fleet, originally set to be retired by the end of 2012.  However, the pilots' union only agreed back in 2010 to convert to the ERJ-190 "voluntarily" with the result that the rate of training has been slower than needed to make full use of the new type.  Five of the carrier's newly-delivered ERJ-190's were parked unused at Salta, Corrientes, and Formosa airports during much of 2011 and are still there plus the author of this blog saw two ERJ-190's parked remotely at Cordoba airport in early August 2011, apparently also unused.  This delay has been costly for the carrier.

Mariano Recalde, the CEO of Aerolineas Argentinas/Austral (both are owned as one entity by the Argentine national government) announced in late 2011 that the carrier would move up the retirement date of the 150-seat MD-80's to April 1 of this year as a cost-cutting move to reduce the airline's fleet to just one type of aircraft and one that is better-suited to Austral's route network consisting primarily of Argentine domestic routes with relatively light passenger volume (the ERJ-190's are 100-seaters).   Mr. Recalde's move was supported by the government's Minister of Planning Julio de Vido and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez in view of the government's need to reduce its subsidies to the two airlines which in 2011 amounted to US$ 757 million, a staggering amount given that the two carriers only have a fleet of approx. 70 aircraft total.  President Fernandez criticized the union for "lack of cooperation" and an attitude defined by "self-interest".

The plans to retire the MD-80 fleet earlier than originally planned elicited the recent strong response from UALA's rank-and-file members, also causing internal conflicts within the union as the union's directors, including UALA president Claudio Zomoza, opposed the membership's stand.

The pilots prefer to fly the larger and heavier MD-80's because they can claim higher salaries plus one would presume that flying heavier types would make them better candidates for expatriate contract flying in countries in need of pilots, such as China and a few Middle Eastern states.     

Where this situation will go remains a mystery but continued losses for the carrier appear to be a certainty for the foreseeable future.   


Sunday, January 8, 2012

ROUTE UPDATE: Andes Receives Authorization to fly A320 Charters

Andes Lineas Aereas received authorization on January 4 to fly the two A320's it has wet-leased from Vueling, and that have been in Argentina since late December, on charters to various destinations in Latin America. 

The company plans to fly the aircraft to Punta Cana and Samaná in the Dominican Republic, Margarita Island off the coast of Venezuela, and Porto Seguro, Salvador, Natal and Maceió in Brazil.  While awaiting authorization for the use of these aircraft, Andes used its existing MD-80 fleet to operate these services. 

Source: Aviacion News

ROUTE UPDATE: Emirates Started Dubai - Rio de Janeiro - Buenos Aires Flights on January 4

Emirates Airlines started daily service from Dubai to Buenos Aires via Rio de Janeiro on January 4.  Flights will be operated with 777-300ER aircraft.  The first flight, EK247, was greeted with a traditional water cannon salute at Buenos Aires' Ministro Pistarini de Ezeiza Airport (EZE) when it arrived there at 8:20pm on the 4th commanded by Argentine captain Marcos Medina.  

Several dignitaries, including Enrique Meyer - Argentine Minister of Tourism, Thierri Antinori - Vice President of Sales for Emirates, Ruben Caro - the Argentine ambassador in the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed Eissa Alzaabi - UAE ambassador to Argentina and Marcelo Cervetto from Aeropuertos Argentina 2000, operator of Ezeiza Airport, participated in a ceremony marking the inaugural flight and noting the connectivity that the flight will provide through EK's Dubai (DXB) hub as well as the seats offered on the EZE-GIG (Rio de Janeiro) and v.v. sectors.

Sources: Aviacion News, Emirates website, Cabecera Norte blog