Wednesday, January 31, 2018

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas' third 737 MAX 8, LV-HKU, arrived in Argentina on 26Jan18

UPDATED 10Feb18: Aerolineas Argentinas 737 MAX 8, LV-HKU (c/n 44293/6753), taxis at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 08Feb18. (Phil Perry Photo) 

Aerolineas Argentinas' third 737 MAX 8, LV-HKU (c/n 44293/6753), arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on the afternoon of 26Jan18 after its delivery flight from Seattle's Boeing Field (BFI) via Punta Cana (PUJ).  The aircraft is scheduled to enter commercial service on 05Feb18 on a flight to the Patagonian city of Neuquen (NQN), which has apparently been receiving many 737 MAX 8 flights lately.     


Sunday, January 28, 2018

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Flybondi started first Argentina LCC service as planned on 26Jan18

Flybondi flew the first genuine Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) scheduled service by an Argentine airline on Friday, 26Jan18 when its sole 737-800 to date, LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698), took off from Cordoba (COR) at 3:26pm local time operating flight FO5432 to Iguazu (IGR).

Long Turnarounds

The aircraft landed in Iguazu (IGR) on schedule at 5:00pm but did not depart back to Cordoba (COR) until 79 minutes later at 6:19pm, exceeding by a wide margin its scheduled turnaround time of 30 minutes, presumably because this was the first-ever flight of the airline and the ground staff will need experience to successfully execute quick turns.         

Flybondi operated its second round-trip the following day, Saturday, 27Jan18, when it flew from Cordoba (COR) to Bariloche (BRC), this time with a 60-minute turn instead of the planned 30 minutes.  

Fast "Turns" = More Flights & Revenue

Fast on-the-ground turnaround times are essential to the operation of Low-Cost Carriers, allowing them to operate more sectors per day, thereby generating more revenue and making more efficient use of the fixed monthly cost of leasing an aircraft or paying off its purchase loan.   

Normally, one would presume that Flybondi will reach its goal of 30-minute turns, but fast turns of aircraft the size of a 737-800 are unprecedented in Argentina, with 60-75 minutes being more typical so the carrier perhaps will face a challenge in this respect.

One Aircraft Fleet

Another challenge for Flybondi, at least in the short run, will be operating its growing route system with just one aircraft.  As it is, the aircraft experienced a technical issue on Tuesday, January 23, when a demonstration flight was forced to make a precautionary return to Cordoba (COR) after just 12 minutes of flight.  Any "mechanicals" experienced in scheduled service will result in multiple flight cancellations, at least in the airline's first few weeks.  

Flybondi is currently scheduled to take delivery of its second 737-800 on 08Feb18 with three more aircraft due in the coming months.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

NEW AIRLINE PLANS: Flybondi receives AOC, starts selling tickets, will start flying 26Jan18

New Argentine Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Flybondi is due to start regularly scheduled commercial service on 26Jan18 with its first route being Cordoba (COR) to Iguazu (IGR).

The most recent developments at the carrier:


*  The ANAC Argentine national aviation authority granted Flybondi its Air Operator Certifiocate (AOC) on 10Jan18.

*  The carrier promptly started selling tickets on its website the next day, 11Jan18, claiming to have sold 10,000 tickets in the first 24 hours.

* Flybondi's two-letter IATA code is FO (the letter"O" not the number "0")

* The airline's first route will be Cordoba (COR) - Iguazu (IGR) 2x/weekly using its sole (so far) 737-800, effective 26Jan18.


Sample airfares include:

* Cordoba (COR) - Iguazu (IGR) base minimum fare AR$ 1,928 RT = approx. US$ 100

* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) - Cordoba (COR)  (Buenos Aires - Cordoba is the most heavily traveled city pair in Argentina) base minimum fare AR$ 1,394 RT = approx. US$ 73

The earlier that tickets are bought, the lower the fares, with the above discounts having at least a 10-day advance purchase requirement and being subject to availability (buying 10 days in advance does not guarantee these fares).

First Routes

Flybondi announced the following 16 routes to start by May:  

Buenos Aires: 

* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Neuquen (NQN) - 1x/daily - eff 26FEB18 
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Bariloche (BRC) - 1x/daily - eff 26FEB18  
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Tucuman (TUC) - 1x/daily - eff 28FEB18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Corrientes (CNQ) - 1x/daily - eff 05MAR18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Mendoza (MDZ) - 1x/daily - eff 05MAR18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Jujuy (JUJ) - 5x/weekly - eff 13MAR18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Posadas (PSS) - 1x/daily - eff 30APR18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Bahia Blanca (BHI) - 4x/weekly - eff 03MAY18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Salta (SLA) - 1x/daily - eff 07MAY18
* Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) – Santiago del Estero (SDE) - 4x/weekly - eff 10MAY18 


* Cordoba (COR) – Iguazu (IGR) - 2x/weekly - eff 26JAN18
* Cordoba (COR) – Bariloche (BRC) - 2x/weekly - eff 27JAN18
* Cordoba (COR) – Mendoza (MDZ) - 5x/weekly - eff 29JAN18
* Cordoba (COR) – Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) - 2x/daily - eff 09FEB18 


* Mendoza (MDZ) – Bariloche (BRC) - 2x/weekly - eff 30JAN18
* Mendoza (MDZ) – Iguazu (IGR) - 2x/weekly - eff 01FEB18

These routes will be operated by the five 737-800's that it expects to have in its fleet by June (it has one now with four more to be delivered).  Two of the five aircraft will be based in Cordoba (COR) to operate routes originating from that city. 

The airline expects to have 33 routes in operation by the end of the year.

An Argentine federal judge recently ordered the suspension of construction of new facilities to be used by Flybondi at El Palomar (EPA) due to complaints filed by citizens' groups that an environmental impact study should be carried out to determine the effects of the expected sharp increase in noise from ongoing commercial operations.  Nonetheless, construction apparently continues.   

Sources: via Eric Trum

Saturday, January 20, 2018

FLEET UPDATE: Flyest's second CRJ-200, LV-HQU, arrived in Argentina last week

New Argentine start-up carrier Flyest's second CRJ-200, LV-HQU (c/n 7200), arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) sometime during the last week, presumably from Asuncion (ASU) where it was observed parked in December 2017 wearing the Spanish registration EC-MQZ.

Flyest is apparently a joint venture between Spanish carrier Air Nostrum and some former directors of the defunct Argentine carrier Sol Lineas Aereas, similar to the venture that Air Nostrum has with Amaszonas of Bolivia whereby surplus CRJ-200's from the Spanish airline's fleet are put to use earning revenue on new routes in South America.

Flyest's first CRJ-200, LV-GIJ (c.n 7466), flew briefly with Sol Lineas Aereas in late 2015 / early 2016 and was parked for a time before joining Flyest in March 2017.  It has since flown numerous charters, mainly for professional sports teams.

LV-GIJ wears a scheme consisting of basic blue Austral colors (Sol had a short-lived joint venture with Austral) but LV-HQU has an all-white fuselage and red tail with the same billboard Flyest titles as LV-GIJ but in red, not white, and a white check mark on the tail as seen in the following photo from the Rollout Spotting blog:


Thursday, January 18, 2018

FLEET UPDATE: Norwegian Air Argentina's first 737-800 arrived in Argentina on 15Jan18

Norwegian Air Argentina's first 737-800, LV-HQH (c/n 42278/6347), arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 15Jan18 after its delivery flight from Oslo (OSL) via Goose Bay (YYR) Canada and Fort de France (FDF) Martinique  The aircraft flew to Argentina with a sticker sporting the registration EI-FVO covering the Argentine registration until it arrived on Argentine soil when the sticker was removed revealing its new identity.

As with other aircraft of the Norwegian Air family, LV-HQH's tail carries the image of a notable individual of the nation where the aircraft is based, in this case that of the Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, most famous for his innovative tango compositions. 

LV-HQH is a fairly new aircraft having been delivered to Norwegian Air International on 06Apr17 bearing its former registration EI-FVO. 

Photos and video of the aircraft from the blog Sir Chandler:

Norwegian still needs to go through the months-long process of obtaining its Air Operator's Certificate, which will entail demonstrating its fitness to run a safe and viable airline operation through the publication of manuals, staff training, introducing safe operational procedures, operating route-proving flights, etc.  LV-HQH will be used in many facets of this process.   

The airline is expected to start commercial operations in the second half of 2018 with flights from all three Buenos Aires airports; Aeroparque (AEP), Ezeiza (EZE), and El Palomar (EPA) with 10-12 737-800's expected in the fleet by the end of the year.      

Norwegian expects its Argentine affiliate to eventually fly 787's internationally. 


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

FLEET UPDATE: Andes third 737-800 arrived in Argentina on 13Dec17

Andes Lineas Aereas' third 737-800, LV-HKZ (c/n 30882/760), arrived at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on its delivery flight on 13Dec17.  The aircraft was originally delivered to Hapag Lloyd in 2001 and continued to fly in Germany for Air Berlin and most recently TUIfly before joining Andes.

Andes' fleet currently consists of five active MD-83's, including three that previously flew with Austral and two that served with Spanair, plus three 737-800's with more 800's expected to eventually replace all of its MD-80 fleet.  

The carrier dramatically expanded its regularly-scheduled network from four to eleven cities in 2017 with new destinations including Bariloche (BRC), Cordoba (COR), Iguazu (IGR), Mar del Plata (MDP), Mendoza (MDZ), Tucuman (TUC) and its first scheduled international service to Punta del Este (PDP) in Uruguay.  All points are primarily served from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP).

Andes' most important business has traditionally been charters, especially to summer destinations, for the student vacation market and for professional sports teams, markets which it is maintaining while it grows its scheduled network.