Monday, August 29, 2016

Air Class of Uruguay is now LATAM Cargo Uruguay ? Two 727-200's up For Sale ?

Air Class Cargo 727-200F, CX-CLB (c/n 21996), at Montevideo (MVD) in October 2015. The airline took delivery of this aircraft on 24Oct15. (Photo: Amilcar Carriqui via Martin Blanco of Aeronaves CX) 

The Wikipedia entry for the Uruguayan cargo airline, Air Class, until recently had a logo referring to LATAM Cargo Uruguay, suggesting that the carrier had been bought by the giant Chilean airline enterprise.  The editor of this blog has not found any other references to LATAM Cargo Uruguay online and the logo is gone from the Wikipedia page.

Bandeirante Passenger Operations

Air Class started operations in 1997 as an air taxi operator but in 2001 it acquired its first turboprop aircraft, Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante, CX-VIP (c/n 110-258), enabling it to start scheduled passenger service between Montevideo (MVD) and Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) which it flew for only a short while followed by the short 30-mile, 20-minute hop over the Rio de la Plata between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Colonia (CYR) Uruguay in 2003-2004 on behalf of AeroVIP Lineas Aereas.

CX-VIP left the Air Class fleet to Brazil where it belly-landed at the Cataratas Airport on 28Jul14 while flying as PT-TAW for Taxi Aero Weiss.

Metro Cargo Operations

Air Class went on to acquire four Fairchild SA227AC Metro III freighters.  

Two of these are still with the company:

* CX-CLS (c/n AC-755B) - Bought in December 2006
* CX-LSS (c/n AC-720) - Received November 2012

One of the others left to another carrier with the other having crashed in June 2012. 

* CX-CLA (c/n AC-736) - Leased from May 2004 to February 2013

* CX-LAS (c/n AC-482) - Received in October 2009.  Crashed in the Rio de la Plata on 06Jun12 with the loss of two crew near Isla de Flores while operating a cargo flight from Montevideo (MVD) to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE).  The following links summarize the accident and ensuing search for the aircraft:

727-200F Operations

The first of two 727-200F's, CX-CAR (c/n 21958/1533), was delivered to Air Class on 29Jun11. This aircraft had a long career flying in the United States prior to arriving in Uruguay having been originally delivered to PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) in 1979 and going on to fly with Piedmont, US Air, American Trans Air and Astar Air Cargo.

Air Class' second 727-200F, CX-CLB (c/n 21996/1571), had a similar long career flying in the US, having been originally delivered to Braniff in 1980 and also flying for US Air, American Trans Air and Astar Air Cargo.  However, the aircraft also served in Venezuela from 2009-2015 with Vensecar International (DHL Express) before arriving in Uruguay in October 2015 ac CX-CLB.    

Both aircraft have reportedly been flying a weekly Montevideo (MVD) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Asuncion (ASU) round-trip plus cargo charters.  Photos of CX-CAR at several South American airports have appeared on the Internet, including Santiago (SCL), 
Curitiba (CWB), Porto Alegre (POA), and Salvador de Bahia (SSA).

Interestingly, both 727-200F's have shown as being for sale on more than one website:


Thursday, August 25, 2016

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Amaszonas Uruguay receives Air Operator Certificate, planning Montevideo (MVD) - Aeroparque (AEP) flights 05Oct16

Amaszonas Uruguay received its Air Operator Certificate from the DINACIA Uruguayan aviation authority on 10Aug16 and the carrier immediately announced plans to start service on the Montevideo (MVD) - Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) "Air Bridge" on 05Oct16 using CRJ-200's 2x/daily. 

Amaszonas Uruguay is a division of parent Amaszonas Linea Aerea, which is based out of La Paz, Bolivia and also owns affiliate Amaszonas Paraguay.  

Amaszonas Linea Aerea (parent company)

Amaszonas started charter services with a small fleet of Cessna 208 Caravan and Fairchild Metro turboprop aircraft in 2000.  In 2012, the carrier acquired five 50-seat CRJ-200 regional jets to start scheduled service with the first route being La Paz (LPB) to Santa Cruz de la Sierra (VVI).  By 2014, Amaszonas announced plans to lease nine CRJ-200's and expand its route network to include 40 airports by 2017.   

Amaszonas Paraguay 

Amaszonas' Paraguayan affiliate was founded in 2015 with one CRJ-200, ZP-CRN (c/n 7866), transferred from the parent company operating from its Asuncion (ASU) base to Ciudad del Este (AGT) and Montevideo (MVD).      


As of today, Amaszonas Bolivia and Amaszonas Paraguay together operate eight CRJ-200's serving six airports in Bolivia; with La Paz (LPB) and Santa Cruz (VVI) being hub / focus cities, plus Cochabamba (CBB), Rurrenabaque (RBQ), Sucre (SRE), and Uyuni (UYU).  International destinations include Asuncion (ASU), Ciudad del Este (AGT), Cuzco (CUZ), Iquique (IQQ) and Montevideo (MVD).  

The group's two Uruguayan routes are Santa Cruz (VVI) - Asuncion (ASU) - Montevideo (MVD) operated 7x weekly and Asuncion (ASU) - Montevideo (MVD) which is flown 3x weekly and soon expected to also go to 7x/weekly.   

Amaszonas Uruguay 

This carrier had its beginnings in April 2015 when the Amaszonas parent company bought BQB Lineas Aereas from Los Cipreses S.A., owner of the Buquebus Ferry Lines, which operates a near monopoly ferry service over the Rio de la Plata between Argentina and Uruguay.  

Los Cipreses was in the process of shutting down BQB's ATR-72 operation after approx. five years' service out of Uruguay and it was Amaszonas' intent to use this entity as a platform for starting an instant airline operation that would have the status of a Uruguayan carrier with the route rights out of Montevideo (MVD) that would come with that.  However, Amaszonas ran into unexpected legal complications with the ownership structure of BQB with the need to "extract" the BQB entity from Los Cipreses and replace the latter with Amaszonas as the new owner.  This process took the better part of the last year to complete.

Additional to the need to formally acquire ownership of BQB, Amaszonas Uruguay had to undergo the same multi-step process that Alas Uruguay went through to get a Uruguayan air operator certificate which it recently completed having successfully concluded "demonstration" or route-proving flights with the Uruguayan DINACIA aviation authority.    

Interestingly though, the Amaszonas Uruguay website home page shows as BQB Lineas Aereas complete with the former carrier's color scheme and logo.  

Amaszonas Uruguay so far has one CRJ-200, CX-SDU (c/n 7209), transferred from the parent company but it is set to grow its fleet to six CRJ-200's in the next couple of years.    

Amaszonas Group Marketing Strategy  

Amaszonas currently has modest hubs in La Paz (LPB) and Asuncion (ASU), which it plans to expand with flights to more destinations plus the addition of Montevideo (MVD) and Santiago (SCL) for four hubs in all encompassing a regional network consisting of mostly secondary cities in South America's "southern cone".  

Amaszonas Uruguay's first service will be from Montevideo (MVD) to Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), which will likely be its most lucrative route, even competing with Austral's 5x/daily service with its Embraer 190's and Alas Uruguay's 2x/daily flights with its 737-300's.

Plans are for Amaszonas Uruguay to add its own services from Montevideo (MVD) to Asuncion (ASU) and Santa Cruz (VVI) that would complement those already operated by its two sister carriers.

Flights from Montevideo (MVD) to Cordoba (COR) and Rosario (ROS) are also planned, which would probably be approved by the new Argentine government since it has approved nearly all new service requests by foreign carriers.  

A good example of providing connectivity between secondary cities would be a possible Montevideo (MVD) - Cordoba (COR) - Santa Cruz (VVI) route, which would tap into the large Bolivian population in the Cordoba region. 

Services to Santiago (SCL) and Florianopolis (FLN) and Porto Alegre (POA) are also expected. The latter will not be an easy task as the routes from Montevideo (MVD) to Chile and Brazil are already well served by LATAM, Sky Airlines, Gol and Azul.


Monday, August 22, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas received its seventh A330-200 on 05Aug16 + Current Fleet Status

Aerolineas Argentinas received its seventh A330-200, LV-GHQ (c/n 1737), which is also its third new A330-202 direct from the Airbus factory, on 05Aug16.  The other four examples are used A330-223's that were originally delivered to SABENA and Air Afrique, two each in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

Aerolineas' A330-200's are progressively replacing the carrier's seven-strong A340-300 fleet. One of the latter aircraft, LV-CEK (c/n 094), flew its last revenue flight with Aerolineas on 14Aug16 and will be returned to the lessor once it has been refurbished.  Of the other six A340's, LV-CSE (c/n 126), is expected to leave the fleet in mid-September with LV-CSX (c/n 373) scheduled to follow in March 2017.        

Replacement A330's include the newly-delivered LV-GHQ, plus LV-GKO (c/n 587) and LV-GIF (c/n 1748) due to join Aerolineas in late August and October 2016, respectively. 

Eventually, Aerolineas' entire A340 fleet might be replaced by A330's but a lot of that depends on whether the A330's will be able to operate some of Aerolineas' longest routes, such as Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Rome (FCO) nonstop, which is currently covered by the A340's. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Avianca puts plans for new Argentina affiliate on hold

Avianca, which planned to start a low-cost Argentine affiliate before the end of 2016, has put those plans on hold until at least 2017 and is reportedly reconsidering the projected airline altogether.      

Avianca seemed to be well on its way to establishing an Argentine operation with the purchase of the small Argentine carrier Macair Jet, interviews with prospective staff and plans to initially place six ATR-72's in service, but the airline has encountered an operating environment in Argentina that it apparently doubts will allow it to successfully establish a low-cost carrier there.

Factors that Avianca perceives as roadblocks include:

* High airport taxes and excessive aeronautical infrastructure fees compared to other countries.

* The mandatory use of Intercargo, the state-owned airport ground handling operator, with its monopolistic fees and practices.

* An Argentine airline labor market characterized by high employee wage scales and low-productivity work rules as benchmarked by Aerolineas Argentinas, the market leader, which would likely lead to substantial resistance to the lower-wage, higher productivity work rules prevalent at low-cost carriers that Avianca would probably want to implement.

* Likely opposition from Aerolineas Argentinas' management and labor to a low-cost carrier in the Argentine domestic market, the only market where Aerolineas makes money (its regional South American flights are marginally profitable at best and its long-haul intercontinental routes are big losers).

* Likely resistance by the Argentine government to a free pricing environment where low-cost carriers typically drop fares to very low levels to stimulate travel and make money on a high-volume, thin-margin passenger traffic profile.  Such a pricing policy, without the  minimum airfare "bands" that exist now, would lead to even larger losses at Aerolineas Argentinas than the already massive deficits of recent years, which the government (and taxpayers) are no longer willing to tolerate.         
Avianca has not cancelled plans to start a low-cost carrier in Argentina and might still go ahead with the operation.  The coming months should give a better idea of what to expect.    


Thursday, August 18, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: LATAM Argentina received its 14th A320 on 19Jun16

LATAM Argentina's 14th A320, LV-GLP (c/n 1355), flew from Santiago (SCL) to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 19Jun16 and entered service with the carrier three days later on 22Jun16.  

The aircraft was originally delivered to LAN Chile on 11Dec00 where it carried the registration CC-COF until its recent transfer from the parent carrier to its Argentine affiliate.  

LATAM Argentina (formerly LAN Argentina) started service on 08Jun05 with three 737-200's that were joined by two more 200's later that year.  These were replaced between 2006-2008, starting with four A320's in 2006, one in 2007, and five in 2008, but the fleet did not grow beyond these ten aircraft for several years because the carrier was not allowed to bring in any more planes by the ANAC Argentine aviation authority.

Finally, in 2011, two more A320's came over from Chile with one additional aircraft each year in 2014 and 2016 to get to LATAM Argentina's 14-strong A320 fleet today.  The carrier also operates two 767-300's on the Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Miami (MIA) route. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

FLEET UPDATE: Austral received its 26th Embraer 190 on 26Jul16

Austral received its 26th (and last currently on order) Embraer 190, LV-GIQ (c/n 716), direct from the factory in Brazil on 26Jul16.  

Like the carrier's 25th Embraer 190, the Skyteam logo that normally appears near the cockpit windows on Austral's other 190's is missing and the Argentine flag is placed to the back of and below the cockpit windows instead of directly below them.  

LV-GIQ entered service with Austral on 07Aug16 operating a Buenos Aires   Aeroparque (AEP) - Puerto Iguazú (IGR) - Rosario (ROS) - Mendoza (MDZ) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) circular route. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

FLEET UPDATE & PHOTOS: Austral's 24th and 25th E190's, LV-GBK and LV-GIK

Austral Lineas Aereas' 24th Embraer E190, LV-GBK (c/n 291), lands at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 07Aug16.  This aircraft was originally delivered to Republic Airways on 23Sep09 and joined Austral on 02Jun16 on lease from Nordic Aviation Capital.  (Phil Perry Photo) 

Austral's 25th E190, LV-GIK (c/n 715), taxis at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 06Aug16.  It was delivered factory-new to the carrier on 26Jun16.  Note that compared to Austral's other E190's, the Skyteam logo near the cockpit windows is missing and the Argentine flag is placed to the back of the cockpit windows instead of below them. (Phil Perry Photo)   


Friday, August 12, 2016

PHOTOS: All Three LATAM Argentina A320's that are in new colors - LV-BRY, LV-BSJ, LV-BRA

Three LATAM Argentina A320's have been painted in the carrier's new colors so far; LV-BRY, LV-BSJ and LV-BRA, in that order.  All three of them were photographed by the editor of this blog, Phil Perry, at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on the weekend of August 6-7, 2016 as presented below:

LATAM Argentina A320, LV-BRY (c/n 1351), taxiing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 06Aug16.  (Phil Perry Photo)  

This was the first LATAM Argentina aircraft painted in the new colors where it was spotted soon after it came out of the paint shop in San Jose (SJO) Costa Rica on 02May16, three days before the official unveiling of the carrier's new image on 05May16.  It was also photographed at Aeroparque on 08May16.     

LATAM Argentina A320, LV-BSJ (c/n 1332), rolls down Aeroparque's runway 13 on its takeoff run on 06Aug16.  (Phil Perry Photo)    

This plane arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) from the San Jose, Costa Rica paint shop on 29Jun16.

LATAM Argentina A320, LV-BRA (c/n 1304), lands at Aeroparque on 07Aug16.  (Phil Perry Photo)

LV-BRA arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 04Jul16 from the Coopesa facility in San Jose, Costa Rica in the carrier's new colors but only recently entered service again.  

Special thanks to my friend Carlos Abella, editor of Rollout Spotting, for the information he provided for this posting.