Wednesday, May 31, 2017

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas retires 737-7Q8 LV-CVX, going to Southwest

Aerolineas Argentinas 737-7Q8, LV-CVX (c/n 30641/1080), lands at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 07Aug16.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas retired the above aircraft on 04May17 when it departed Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Paine Field (PAE) in Everett, Washington, USA with intermediate stops in Punta Cana (PUJ) and Miami (MIA).   

The 737-700 will join Southwest Airlines as have several other retired Aerolineas Argentinas 737-700's recently.  It was photographed in Seattle (SEA) on 26May17 sporting its new registration N7859B still in Aerolineas colors but with its titles painted over:

LV-CVX's departure leaves Aerolineas with 13 737-700's in its fleet, all of which will be retired as they are replaced by new 737-800's entering the Argentine national carrier's fleet. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Flybondi to start-up with US$ 20 million investment and 737-800 lease

New Jobs

Flybondi is preparing for start-up with 25 staff at its Puerto Madero headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires taking applications for an initial 30 pilot and 100 cabin crew positions with flight operations expected to start in September or October of this year. 

El Palomar (EPA) Development

The airline is planning to initially invest US$ 20 million developing its own facilities at El Palomar (EPA), an airfield located 15 miles west of downtown Buenos Aires, which is best known as a military airbase where several former Aerolineas Argentinas / Fuerza Aerea Argentina 707's have been parked for several years, which have been recently joined by the "Tango 01" Argentine Presidential 757, now out of service, and the FAA 737-500, reportedly undergoing engine changes that will see it soon resume service transporting governmental VIP's.  

Flybondi will develop passenger and flight facilities at EPA for its own private use not to be shared with other airlines as the carrier does not want to be an airport administrator.  

New Terminal, Ramp, Taxiways & Access Road 

The infrastructure to be constructed will include a new passenger terminal, featuring a simple functional design along the lines of the those used by Low-Cost Carriers in Europe, new ramp space, and connecting taxiways, all located across runway 16/34 from the existing terminal space on the east side of the airfield.  A new road connecting to the "Western Access Highway" will also be built to make the terminal easier to reach.  The new facilities are expected to be ready for use in early 2018 with Flybondi starting initial flight operations from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) pending completion of the new resources. 

A further US$ 10 million is planned to be spent expanding its facilities at EPA during the next 2-3 years. 

First 737-800 Lease

The most significant recent development for Flybondi was the signing of a lease on its first aircraft, a 737-800, on 12May17 with delivery of the plane expected later this year.  Another 10 737-800's are expected to join the fleet in 2017-18. 


The airline aims to carry 8 million passenger in its first five years while employing 1,500 workers resulting in another 20,000 new travel industry jobs.


Monday, May 29, 2017

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Avianca Argentina to start operations on 11Jul17 between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Reconquista (RCQ)

First Service

Avianca Argentina will start operating as a new carrier on 11Jul17 between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Reconquista (RCQ) in northern Santa Fe province using ATR-72-600's 1x/daily.  

Next Destinations to Follow

The next city for scheduled service is planned to be Villa Maria (VMR) in Cordoba province followed by Villa Gesell (VLG), Mar del Plata (MDQ) and Necochea (NEC) along the coast of the Province of Buenos Aires and Tres Arroyos (OYO) and Olavarria (OVR), which are located more inland in the same province.  The latter three airports will probably first see flights operated by the ex-Macair fleet of Jetstream 32's passing to ATR-72-600's once these routes have been developed.

Concordia (COC) in Entre Rios province and Puerto Madryn (PMY) along the Patagonian coastline are slated for new service too.

Cordoba (COR) Hub

Avianca Argentina is also now stating plans to establish a hub in Cordoba (COR), Argentina's second-largest city that is well-located for hub operations in the center of the country.  Flights from COR to several cities are tentatively planned; Mendoza (MDZ), San Juan (UAQ), Rosario (ROS), Santa Fe (SFN), Santa Rosa (RSA), Resistencia (RES), Santiago del Estero (SDE), Río Hondo (RHD), Tucumán (TUC), Salta (SLA), Jujuy (JUJ) and Iguazú (IGR).

Tucuman (TUC) Hub

Avianca Argentina's previously announced plans to operate a hub in the northern city of Tucuman (TUC) are still on with the carrier planning to request routes from the airport at the next public route hearings in June / July.  The airline has not prioritized service from TUC because the airport facilities are undergoing upgrades and renovations that will not be finished until September. 

Start-Up Assets

The carrier expects to have five ATR-72-600's in service with 125,000 passengers flown by the end of 2017.  It will start service with 50 pilots and 50 flight attendants and employ 500 people directly and 1700 indirectly.


Avianca Argentina is investing US$ 180 million to start operations consisting of six ATR-72-600's at US$ 25 million each and US$ 30-40 million in start-up costs, presumably including airport facilities, offices, training and employee salaries.

Future Plans

The next major step for the airline in the not-too-distant future is expected to be the solicitation of international routes to be flown with A320 and 787 aircraft.     

Sunday, May 28, 2017

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Avianca Argentina cleared to start service by Anti-Corruption Office

On 08May17, the Argentine Government Anti-Corruption Office found no conflict of interest between Avianca Argentina and the administration of Argentine president Marucio Macri.  Avianca Argentina established a foothold in the Argentine domestic airline scene when it purchased the Air Operator Certificate of Macair, an FBO that also flew limited Jetstream 32 domestic services, from members of the Macri family in 2016. 

Some suspected that the Macri family retained an ownership stake in Macair, maintained financial interests tied to its fortunes or traded future favors as part of the sale.  The doubts generated by these suspicions led to the suspension of route rights granted to the carrier by the Argentine ANAC aviation authority pending the outcome of the investigation of the anti-corruption office.  

With the latter finding no such links, the Ministry of Transport has formalized the 16 domestic and two international route rights granted to Avianca Argentina and the airline can now go ahead with the introduction of services with the 12 ATR-72-600's that it has on order, with two of them already having been delivered. 

The next posting will feature information on Avianca Argentina's first flights starting 11Jul17 and plans for the rest of the year. 


Saturday, May 27, 2017

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Macair Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) - Reconquista (RCQ) service operated under Avianca Argentina brand eff 03Apr17

The service flown by Macair, the airline that was previously owned by members of Argentine President Mauricio Macri's family which was bought by Avianca, between Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) and Reconquista (RCQ) in northern Santa Fe Province has been operating under the Avianca Argentina brand since 03Apr17.  The flights have been operated with 19-seat Jetstream 32 aircraft for several years under the Macair brand along with a few other regional services to smaller cities in the provinces of Cordoba and Santa Fe, such as Villa Maria (VMR) and Sunchales (NCJ). 

The change in airline name being used for the Reconquista (RCQ) flights was a little surprising because the new services to be operated by Avianca Argentina with its new ATR-72-600 fleet had not received the go-ahead yet in early April and the airline was technically not authorized to operate in Argentina yet. However, with the Macair service having operated for several years and with Avianca owning the carrier, there was apparently enough of a "grey area" for Avianca to apply the Avianca Argentina brand to the Macair flights.   

The local chamber of commerce in northern Argentina has been promoting the service in social media and even has a website featuring the Avianca Argentina brand and logo:

Macair's Jetstream 32 fleet apparently still consists of at least three aircraft with two of the examples flying in the carrier's colors and titles with one painted with simple wavy lines and sporting a small Macair logo as seen below:  

Macair Jetstream 32, LV-ZST (c/n 941), taxiing at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 17Nov16.  (Phil Perry Photo) 


Sunday, May 21, 2017

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Norwegian Air Argentina announces Fleet and Operational Plans

Norwegian Air Argentina presented its business plan to the Argentine ANAC aviation authority on March 31 in solicitation of an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to enable it to participate in the next round of Argentine public route hearings, currently scheduled for June or July.    

The new LCC plans to eventually invest US$ 3.4 billion (3,400 million) in its Argentine operation employing between 3,000-3,500 staff operating 70 aircraft (737-800's and 787's) on 146 domestic and international routes from crew/aircraft bases in Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE), Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), Cordoba (COR), and Mendoza (MDZ).  

The deployment of aircraft would happen in stages:

* 6 737-800 in service at the start of operations in late 2017 / early 2018
* 11 737-800 + 4 787 - 12 months after the start of service           
* 25 737-800 + 10 787 - 30 months after start-up
* 50 737-800 + 20 787 - 5-8 years after start-up

The airline would fly the main Argentine domestic routes, such as Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) to Cordoba (COR), Mendoza (MDZ) and Salta (SLA), claiming that its services would be more complementary than competitive with Aerolineas Argentinas, Austral and LATAM Argentina with most of its traffic coming from new passengers stimulated to travel by fares much lower than those currently available in these markets. 

These domestic routes would also feed Norwegian Air Argentina's proposed international routes from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to London Gatwick (LGW) (projected to start in December 2017), Barcelona (BCN), and even Oslo (OSL), Stockholm (STO) and Copenhagen (CPH).         

Norwegian Air Argentina forecasts that it will carry approx. 18.2 million passengers on up to 146 routes to 90 destinations in 25 countries once it reaches its projected service levels by around 2025-2026.  It claims that 55,000-60,000 indirect jobs would be created in related travel services, such as hotels, restaurants, ground transportation, shopping, etc.    

Following up on its application to the ANAC, the carrier announced in early May that it was hiring administrative staff immediately with the recruitment of flight crews to start in September.  

The carrier is expected to easily qualify for its AOC due to the parent company's size and credibility.  The Norwegian Air Group had US$ 3.1 billion (3,100 million) revenue in 2016 with 24.7 million passengers carried and 126 aircraft in service. It is the third-largest LCC in Europe and sixth-largest in the world.  It has 250 aircraft on order with Boeing and is the only airline to have proposed new service in Argentina that has the capability to operate to both Europe and the United States as well as Argentine domestic service. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas received its 28th 737-800, LV-GUC, on 20Apr17

Aerolineas Argentinas 737-8SH, LV-GUC (c/n 41358/6362), arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 20Apr17.  It is the carrier's 28th 737-800 and along with the 14 737-700's still in its fleet (most of them are being returned as they come off lease), the airline currently has 42 737NG's.

Aerolineas still has a number of 737-800's on order with several orders being converted to the new 737 MAX 8 model, the first of which is due to be delivered later in 2017.