Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: Retired Austral MD-83 LV-AYD to Enter Service with Andes Lineas Aereas

Austral MD-83 LV-AYD landing on Buenos Aires
Aeroparque (AEP) runway 31 on 03Oct10.
Austral MD-83 LV-AYD, which operated the carrier's last MD-80 Series scheduled service on 10Apr12, will soon enter service with Andes Lineas Aereas.  LV-AYD will be the third former Austral MD-80 to be transferred to Andes, the other two being LV-ARF and LV-BAY. 

As part of the process of returning the aircraft to the lessor and transferring operators, LV-AYD was due to fly from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Montevideo, Uruguay (MVD) and back to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on August 28. 

Source: Linea ALA
Photo:   Phil Perry

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas takes delivery of its 21st & 22nd 737-700's

Aerolineas Argentinas recently took delivery of two 737-700's from ILFC (International Lease Finance Corporation), LV-CXN (msn 30638) and LV-CYJ (msn 30647).  Both aircraft are approximately 10 years old and were previously operated by Virgin Australia.  They are the seventh and eighth aircraft of a 10-plane order from the aircraft lessor and 21st and 22nd 737-700's to join Aerolineas' fleet since 2009.   The two remaining planes from ILFC, LV-CYN and VH-VBL are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.   


Monday, August 27, 2012

PHOTO GALLERY: BRAZIL PHOTOGRAPHY: Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont Airport - Part 2 of 3

Part 2 features aircraft from the fleets of Azul, Trip and Avianca Brasil.  All photos were taken as the aircraft were about to land or take off from runway 02R on Monday, 13Aug12.

Azul Embraer ERJ-190AR, PR-AZC

Azul Embraer ERJ-195LR, PR-AYK

Azul Embraer ERJ-195AR, PR-AYV
in special Brazilian flag scheme

Trip ATR-42-300, PT-MFE

Trip ATR-72-212A, PT-PTR

Trip Embraer ERJ-175SR, PP-PJG

Trip Embraer ERJ-190LR, PP-PJK

Avianca Brasil A318, PR-AVJ

Avianca Brasil A319, PR-AVC

Avianca Brasil Fokker 100, PR-OAE

Photos: Phil Perry

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ROUTE UPDATE: LAN to introduce 787 on Santiago (SCL) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) route on November 1

Airline Route and World Airline News report that LAN Airlines will introduce their first Boeing 787-816, CC-BBA, into scheduled service on November 1 flying between Santiago (SCL) and Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE). This route will be followed soon thereafter by Santiago (SCL) - Lima (LIM) on November 4.

This will be the first use of the 787 in commercial service in South America.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

PHOTO GALLERY: BRAZIL PHOTOGRAPHY: Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont Airport - Part 1 of 3

The editor of this blog traveled to Brazil for business recently but found time to visit Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont Airport (SDU) for some photography courtesy of the generosity of a couple of local spotters/photographers.

Santos Dumont is one of two airports with commercial airline flights serving the Rio de Janeiro area, the other being Galeao (GIG).  SDU is adjacent to Rio's "Centro" business district and has all domestic flights, with about half serving the "air bridge" to Sao Paulo's Congonhas (CGH) Airport, while GIG has a mix of domestic and international flights with service to the US, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and around South America.

SDU is built on a man-made island reclaimed from Guanabara Bay and has two parallel runways, 2L/20R and 2R/20L, 4,134 ft. and 4,341 long, respectively, with the waters of the bay at either end so there is little room for error when operating to/from this airfield.  The runways are apparently too close to one another for simultaneous operations as your editor witnessed aircraft lining up for takeoff on 2R with none using 2L at the same time, which is actually closer to the terminal.  This would also explain why SDU is slot-controlled with a maximum of 23 operations per hour.  It could also be that all planes opt for 2R/20L because of its extra 200 ft. !

Six airlines operate out of Santos Dumont using the equipment listed below.  There are no small commuter airlines flying from SDU.                 

TAM Airlines:                  A319

Gol Transportes Aereos:   737-700, 737-800

Webjet (owned by Gol):   737-300, 737-800
Azul Linhas Aereas:         Embraer 190, 195

Trip (owned by Azul):      ATR-42, ATR-72, Embraer 175, 190

Avianca Brasil:               A318, A319, F100

Many business jets operate into Santos Dumont, some small private aircraft, plus the Brazilian Air Force has an office at SDU with a steady number of passenger flights operating from the facility.

Your editor visited SDU with his gracious host on early Monday morning, August 13, when the airport is at its busiest serving business travelers.  Morning operations are almost always departing/arriving using 2R with a switch to 20L around noon.  All aircraft shot below are landing on or taking off from 2R.

Afternoon shot of Santos Dumont (SDU) taken from Rio's famous
Sugarloaf Mountain.  Note the TAM A319 climbing out from runway 20L.

TAM A319, PR-MBU, about to land on SDU's runway 2R

TAM A319, PT-TMA, with "4000 A320 Family" sticker commemorating
that milestone for Airbus.  The plane is getting ready for takeoff on 2R.

Gol 737-700, PR-VBW, about to touch down on 2R.

Gol 737-800, PR-GUD, taxis out to the 2R threshold for takeoff.

Webjet 737-300, PR-WJL, gets ready to roll on 2R.

One of Webjet's new 737-800's, PR-GGF, landing on 2R.  Note Corcovado
& the Cristo Redentor statue in the distance between the landing gears.

Photos: Phil Perry

Thursday, August 23, 2012

LAN to take delivery of its first 787 on August 31

Flight Global reports that LAN Airlines will take delivery of its first 787, registration CC-BBA, on August 31.  Assembly of the aircraft was completed in late July. 

Photo of LAN 787-816, CC-BBA:

Boeing will hold a ceremony unveiling the 787 at its Everett, Washington production facility on August 30 with the plane departing for Santiago at about 5:00pm on August 31 and arriving in Chile at approx. 9:00am local time on September 1.

LAN will be the first airline in South America to take delivery of the 787 and fourth overall after ANA, Japan Airlines, and Ethiopian Airlines.  It has 32 787's on order, including 22 of the 787-8 model and 10 of the larger 787-9 model.     

The 787 will first see regularly-scheduled service between Santiago and Buenos Aires or Los Angeles.


Friday, August 3, 2012

PLUNA Update: Several Entities Reportedly Interested in Auction of PLUNA Routes & Aircraft

Reports of several parties interested in the auction of the former PLUNA routes and aircraft have surfaced in the last two weeks. 

The PLUNA employees union claims interest on the part of Brazilian businessmen, an investor fund based in Madrid, and the Chilean airline LAN.    

Al Ahli Holding Group

Dubai-based Al Ahli Holding Group, a powerful consortium of several companies, presented a letter to the Uruguayan government months ago indicating an interest in taking over PLUNA, including its employees and debt, but has not received a response, according to the group's representative in Uruguay, Enrique Gorgas.  The group is looking to own an airline in Latin America motivating it to take a serious look at PLUNA.   Ahli Holding Group CEO, Mohammed Kammas was due to meet with undisclosed parties in Madrid on July 24 to discuss the next steps, according to Gorgas.

Other reports speak of at least seven parties interested in the auction that have requested information on the "auction process, matters related to the employees, and the transactions involved in becoming the official national carrier".     

Employee Cooperative

Cesar Iroldi, president of the PLUNA employee union OTAU-OFP, disclosed that the union has talked with two financial investors about a US$ 200 million loan to the union for it to bid at the auction as a "cooperative".  The investors would not actually participate in the management of the new airline nor hold equity in it.  

Sol Uruguay

Sol Uruguay, a company formed to fly the Montevideo - Madrid route (which it did not operate) is also reported to be interested in the auction but has said that the opening price of US$ 135 million is too high.  The company commented that "The aircraft are appropriate for some routes, but not for short legs like the Montevideo - Buenos Aires air bridge." which was PLUNA's main route and would be its successor's too. 


The Uruguayan bus company Cutcsa is also looking at participating in the auction of PLUNA's assets.  Cutcsa president Juan Salgado has said the company is analyzing the possibility as an opportunity that should be at least looked at.  Were Cutcsa to acquire PLUNA's former assets, it might take on the ex-PLUNA employees on something resembling a cooperative, such as the company has with its bus employees, where the workers share in the profits and decision-making but also in the risks.  Salgado concluded that he would like "as a Uruguayan that PLUNA be owned by Uruguayans with Uruguayan workers that see the airline as the national carrier".    

It remains to be seen how many of the above "interested parties" will actually participate in the auction.

Sources:  El Pais Uruguay 10Jul12, 18Jul12,  20Jul12, 22Jul12
              Aviacion News 19Jul12

Thursday, August 2, 2012

PLUNA Update: Lopez Mena of BQB Interested in Former PLUNA Routes but not the CRJ-900's

Juan Carlos Lopez Mena, owner of BQB Lineas Aereas, has said that he is interested in the former PLUNA routes but not the seven CRJ-900's that the government plans to auction off in September.  He described the airline business as "very risky" and that growth needs to be "a little at a time" indicating that acquiring seven aircraft all at once would be talking on too much risk, too quickly.  Referring to his successful Buquebus ferry business between Argentina and Uruguay, Lopez Mena said that he started with one "little ship" and grew from there.   He added that there are "perhaps cheaper or better aircraft" in the market than the CRJ-900's. 

Lopez Mena claimed that BQB made plans "to acquire long-range aircraft to fly all around South America.  This was in place before what happened with PLUNA."  The airline "bought planes for delivery later this year and next year" he said without giving further details.  Earlier reports indicated that BQB was looking to buy CRJ-200ER's. 

Sources:  El Pais Uruguay 17Jul12, 18Jul12

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aerolineas Argentinas Financial Losses Continue to Grow

Through the first half of 2012, the Aerolineas Argentinas / Austral airline group already used 76.4% of the subsidies budgeted by the Argentine Congress to cover its operating deficits for the entire calendar year 2012.  AR$ 2.48 billion (US$ 550 million at the official exchange rate) was budgeted with AR$ 1.9 billion (US$ 420 million) already spent by the end of June.  Much of the money was spent to cover June salaries and the 1/2 "aguinaldo" (two bonuses equal to 1/2 monthly salary, one paid in June and the other in December).

At this rate, as in recent years, Aerolineas will need further subsidies from the Congress to stay solvent through the end of the calendar year.  The government (read taxpayer) subsidies to the airline totalled US$ 804 million in 2011.       

The airline's DAILY losses have grown from AR$ 5.32 million in 2010 to AR$ 7.32 million in 2011 and AR$ 13.07 million so far in 2012.  Projecting current losses for the rest of the year, Aerolineas will close out 2012 with a AR$ 4.64 billion loss or US$ 989 million at the official exchange rate, surpassing 2011's loss by over 20%.  Calculated on a per passenger basis, government/taxpayer subsidies to Aerolineas have cost AR$ 702 / US$ 159 for every boarding.

Editor's Opinion:  It seems like common sense that as long as the government covers losses at Aerolineas, that there will be little incentive for the airline's management and employees to run an efficient operation.  They can relax knowing that they will be protected and the airline will not be allowed to close down.  As long as those are the rules they operate by, the losses will likely continue to grow.              

Source:  Clarin through Aviacion News 21Jun12
            La Nacion through Aviacion News 26Jul12