Sunday, July 27, 2014

BQB Lineas Aereas Cutting Routes, Reducing Some Staff & possibly Canceling A319 Lease

It all started on Wednesday, July 23 when the Uruguayan football / soccer club Defensor Sporting's return flight from Asuncion (ASU) to Montevideo (MVD) after a match was supposedly delayed for weather reasons.  But when the delay became indefinite, concerns started to mount that something more than the weather was at play.  The BQB aircraft did finally arrive the following day to fly the team home but the delay set off a chain of events revealing changes and possibly problems at the airline.

While BQB has announced the arrival of three A319's and the introduction of many new services from Montevideo (MVD) the last few months, only one such aircraft has arrived and only a handful of the destinations are currently served; Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE), Asuncion (ASU), Curitiba (CWB), and Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU).  Destinations that have seen service suspended include Porto Alegre (POA), Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) and Santiago (SCL).  Furthermore, it appears that Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE), Curitiba (CWB), and Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) will be dropped, though Porto Alegre (POA) will apparently be added back on.  

Additionally, 12 pilots have been laid off / made redundant, at least on a temporary basis.  There have been rumors that the A319 lease has been cancelled but that is uncertain.  The Uruguayan newspaper El Pais quotes sources at the airline as saying that the carrier is not having financial problems but is merely adapting to "changed circumstances".  Both claims appear to be plausible as BQB is part of the Buquebus group that operates very successful ferry services between Argentina and Uruguay plus certain destinations out of BQB's Montevideo base are becoming more competitive, such as Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) and Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) where TAM is adding substantial new service.


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