Month: February 2014
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador–Viva Colombia’s Commercial Vice-President William Shaw, declared the airline is analyzing opening flights to the Central American capitals. Shaw attended the ROUTES AMERICAS symposium held at the Sheraton Hotel in the Salvadorian capital. “We are looking into the route to El Salvador or even to have a base in El Salvador”, Shaw declared. “The Central American region really needs a low cost carrier”. El Salvador’s Minister of Tourism, Jose Napoleon Duarte confirmed the negotiations with Viva Colombia are well advanced. Shaw insisted the interest of Viva Colombia for El Salvador is mainly because two things, the great tourist potential the country has and the Salvadorians that live outside their nation, up to 3 million and from those, 2,5 million in the United States. “We still don’t have anything defined, but with the aid of the Minister of Tourism of El Salvador, soon we will be announcing our decision” concluded William Shaw. Viva Colombia announced several months ago its plans to expand to destinations like Panama and Costa Rica. The entrance of Viva Colombia to the market will make the competition fierce between the legacy carriers like Avianca and COPA Airlines, and the low cost carriers like Viva Colombia and Salvadorian start-up VECA Airlines that should start operations in the next months.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The Costa Rican Technical Council of Civil Aviation (CTAC in spanish) informed today of its expansion plans for the Quepos/Manuel Antonio Aerodrome at La Managua (code: XQP). The airport will become a regional domestic and international airport, capable of servicing aircraft as the regional jets Canadair CRJs, Fokker 70s and the ATR-72s. Today the aerodrome receives up to 20 flights a day, most of them domestic from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Two small carriers service Quepos/Manuel Antonio, SANSA Airlines (property of Avianca) and Nature Air. By 2015 the airport will be able to receive not only domestic flights but also internationals, since the new terminal will have Inmigration and Customs areas. Alvaro Vargas the Director of the Civil Aviation Board explained the upgrading consists in a longer and wider runway, bigger ramp, new airport terminal, fire station and hangars for airplane maintenance. The total cost of the upgrade will be of $5 million and its expected to bring more development to the area, well known as one of the “hottest” leisure destinations in Costa Rica. Quepos/Manuel Antonio Regional Airport will be the natural gateway to the Central Pacific, close to national parks, rain forests and spectacular resorts. It is also expected that airlines like Avianca would be interested in opening international services from its Central American hub at Comalapa International Airport in El Salvador, connecting the eleven North American gateways the airline services. Also new international Costa Rican carriers like Ticos Air and Tica Air International (property of Air Panama) are also expected to open flights to Quepos/Manuel Antonio once the airport has the new terminal building.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia–Saudi Arabian Airlines has announced plans to expand its operations to more than 200 destinations worldwide with minimum connections. “We want to reinforce our presence in Europe, North America, Asia, especially in China and Indonesia as well as to open new markets in Russia, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Czech Republic,” said Abdul Aziz Al-Hazmi, CEO of Saudia. A future flight between Riyadh and Mexico City will be the first between Northern Latin America and the Middle East (Emirates and Qatar Airways do operate to Brazil).
LA PAZ, Bolivia–Effective May 23rd, the Bolivian flag carrier Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) will start non-stop flights from La Paz to Miami. The news were announced by the airline general manager Ronald Casso at a news conference in the Bolivian capital. The airline will operate wide-bodied Boeing 767-300, like the ones its already using to Madrid. Boliviana de Aviacion operates Boeing 737-300s to Buenos Airres and Sao Paulo. Casso declared the airline’s next airport in the U.S. after Miami International will be Washington-Dulles. The biggest ethnic concentration of Bolivians is precisely in the U.S. capital. In 1925 Guillermo Kyllmann founded in Cochabamba LAB Airlines (Lloyd Aereo Boliviano). The airline served as Bolivia’s flag carrier until it ceased operations in 2008. In April 1992 another Bolivian airline was founded under the name of AeroSur; and it suspended its operations on May 2012. Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) is expected to also extend its operations to other ALBA counties like Venezuela and Cuba.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Last September the Costa Rican team that runs the airline Ticos Air presented the required documentation to the Civil Aviation General Directorate in order to be certified to operate international flights in Costa Rica. It was expected the airline to start services by December, but still the new Costa Rican carrier has not been able to take off. The director of the Directorate (DGAC) informed the airline has not been able to move forward to the third phase of its certification, since it has not presented yet any of the five Airbus A-319s it stated will use for its international services to Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Caracas and Mexico City. Rumors in Costa Rica are Ticos Air’s CEO Gino Renzi has not been able to secure any investors for the airline to take off and that its loosing momentum. The airline has its headquarters in Forum, a high end business center in Escazu, but no one from the airline has been able to clarify when the airline will launch its flights. In the past several ill-fated projects for a Costa Rican carrier never took off, like West Caribbean Costa Rica and Aeropostal Alas de Centro America.
BOGOTA, Colombia–“Avianca has decided effective July start flights between Bogota and London non-stop, as part of the new push of our commercial and political relations between the two nations”, informed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. This will be the first Colombian airline to start flights between El Dorado International Airport and Heathrow Airport in the U.K. The airline already operates wide bodied Airbus A-330 from Bogota to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. Avianca will be receiving four Boeing 787 Dreamliner by September 2014, long haul aircraft that will dedicated for the European routes, indicated Fabio Villegas. Frankfurt and Paris are also being considered by the second biggest airline in Latin America. The flights to London will start in July using the wide bodied Airbus A-330. The flight will be fed by Avianca flights from Central America, Mexico, Caribbean and South America into El Dorado for connections to the U.K. London-Heathrow will become an important connecting point for Avianca with other Star Alliance airlines and one in particular, Air India that should become a full member by the end of 2014. The growth of commerce between Latin America and India has been important in the recent years. Another European airline, TAP Portugal announced future services to Bogota (Avianca’s main hub) and Panama City (COPA Airlines main hub) from Lisbon.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The main stockholders of Air Panama, George Novey and Eduardo Stagg have now invested in Costa Rican start-up Tica Air International. Carlos Viquez, the representative of the Costa Rican airline informed that Air Panama will transfer one of its Boeing 737-300 to the start-up for the opening of the route San Jose-Miami (that was abandoned in January by Avianca). “Costa Rica has always been a good place to invest and now more than ever with Avianca’s departure of several non-stop markets” said Eduardo Stagg, CEO of Air Panama. Viquez informed that it is expected for Tica Air International to start operations by December 2014. TAI is the second airline project in Costa Rica, after Gino Renzi’s Ticos Air. Alvaro Vargas, the Civil Aviation board (DGAC) director informed that Ticos Air still has not been able to move to the third phase of its certification, since it has not presented any of the 5 Airbus A-319s that Gino Renzi advised the airline would operate. Rumors in Costa Rica are that Ticos Air still has not been able to secure investors for the project. The advantage that TAI would have is the economic support from Air Panama, the second biggest and most important airline in Panama, that also operates flights to San Jose with a jet Fokker 100. “The idea is that both airlines should grow together, using scale economies”, conmmented Eduardo Stagg. Tica Air International is expected to open flights to Managua, David, Bocas del Toro and San Andres.