SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador–The first LCC (Low Cost Carrier) in Central America, VECA Airlines (Vuelos Economicos Centro Americanos) is expected to start operations very soon. The airline will operate two Airbus A-319s from its hub at Comalapa International Airport of El Salvador to all the Central American capitals and important cities: Guatemala City, San Pedro-Sula, Tegucigalpa, Managua, San Jose and Panama City. VECA Airline is hoping to break the duo-poly of the Central American traffic of both Avianca (former TACA Airlines) and COPA Airlines of Panama. Several former TACA Airlines employees work at VECA Airlines, the new runner up as the Salvadorian flag carrier after the absorption of TACA by the Colombian flag carrier. VECA Airlines is one of the three Central American carriers hoping to take off in 2014. The other two airlines are from Costa Rica: Ticos Air and TIA (Tica Air International) owned by Air Panama. Both projects have been slow to start, and now Costa Rican pubkic opinion is skeptical the airline owned by Gino Renzi (Ticos Air) will ever take off. In the meantime, VECA Airlines is ready for take off.
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.
CARACAS, Venezuela–After announcing this week the devaluation of its currency (the Bolivar), the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is practically isolated. The Venezuelan travel agencies have stopped selling airline tickets after some international carriers like Air Europa, Iberia, Air France, Lufthansa, TAP-Portugal, TAME, COPA, United and American Airlines also decided to suspend ticket sales. The Venezuelan Government has a debt of up to 2800 million Euros with all the international airlines operating to the socialist country. This week governement officials met with Air Europa executives, hoping to find a solution in order to pay the debt with the airline, up to 130 million Euros, but it seems both parts couldn’t reach an agreement. The economist Francisco Faraco has defined the situation as “The Bankruptcy of the Venezuelan State”. Its believed that more airlines will suspend sales and most probably operations to Venezuelan airports in the near future.
BOGOTA, Colombia–Avianca Airlines owner German Efromovich is looking to extend his wings to Europe and his eyes are on Alitalia or the Polish flag carrier LOT. Efromovich was born in South America but has Polish ancestors. He purchased the Brazilian LCC Ocean Air (today dbas as Avianca Brazil), later he purchased the TACA Group and Ecuadorian AeroGal. Last year Efromovich tried purchasing TAP Portugal but at the end of a long process he was not able to achieve it. “I need my airline to have more presence in Europe, buying existing airlines or creating a new one”, Efromovich declared to a newspaper in Colombia. The Polish government has also informed of its interest to privatize the flag carrier LOT (Polskie Linie Lotnicze) in 2014. Alitalia is member of DELTA’s Skyteam Alliance and LOT is member of UNITED’s Star Alliance. Avianca Airlines is also a member of Star and the second biggest airline in Latin America after LATAM Airlines (LAN and TAM).
MADRID,Spain–October 15th. Iberia Airlines launched its new image and livery. Since 1978 the airline had used its prior image, a white fuselage, three accent stripes (red,orange and yellow) and the stylized “IB” in the tail. The new corporate image is modern and it is expected to reflect the new Iberia (with British Airways both carriers are owned by International Airlines Group). In 2013 Iberia suspeded its services to Havana and San Juan. The airline operates from Madrid to Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Boston, New York-JFK, Mexico City, Guatemala City, San Salvador, San Jose, Panama City and the most important cities of South America.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico. — The Mexican LCC Volaris celebrated its 7th birthday with a participation of the 22.1% of the market. Since its creation in 2006, Volaris has transported a total of 27,838,365 passengers. The airlines’ CEO, Enrique Beltranena remembered the low cost airline started with two Airbuses leased from TACA Airlines, from Toluca Airport in Mexico City to Tijuana and seven years later the carrier has 43 airliners and operates to 40 cities in Mexico and the United States. The airline is also well known as the most “cyber savvy” in Mexico with 527,971 followers in Facebook, 323,987 in Twitter and 80,200 in Google. The airline has a code-sharing agreement with the LCC Southwest Airlines and also with the German airline Condor. Volaris is owned by the Salvadoran Kriete Family (co-owners of TACA), the invest fund Discovery Americas and Indigo Partners (a fund led by the former CEO of America West, B. Franke). Volaris will be the second airline (after Avianca) to operate in Latin America the modern Airbus A-320s with “Sharklets”.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina. — On March 18th 2013, an article by Francisco Olivera in the Argentinian newspaper LA NACION, declared the government will have to funnel up to $574 million dollars in order to keep the airline running during 2013. Since July 2008, when the Argentinian government took over the ill managed flag carrier and nationalized it, Buenos Aires has given up to $3566 million dollars. Interestingly enough this monumental aid equals to three times the value of American Airlines ($1009 million dollars) and just a little bit more of the value of the French flag carrier Air France ($3200 million dollars). Aerolineas Argentinas is the only state-run airline in Latin America that is part of a global alliance (DELTA’s Skyteam), but just after 5 years, a very expensive flag carrier for the populist government of Cristina Fernandez.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina. — On August 2012 Argentinian flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) became the 18th member of the Sky Team Alliance and the second Latin American airline. Aerolineas Argentinas operates a fleet of 37 aircrafts to 56 destinations. Up to 99.4% of the airline is owned by the Argentinian government. In June 2010 the airline adopted a new livery, a more modern image based in the Argentinian flag, light blue, white and gray with the classic logo of the Condor.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador. — After eighty two years in service in just a couple of months (possibly by the end of May), TACA Airlines (once TACA Airways, TACA International Airlines and GRUPO TACA) will dissapear into the entrails of Colombian flag carrier AVIANCA. In 2009 both airlines created the AviancaTACA Holding Company. For several months airline experts believed the airline would have operated as Air France/KLM, mantaining their individual images, logos, liveries and hubs. But in 2012 the company’s CEO Fabio Villegas informed the TACA branding was being dropped and that the marketing sole name was going to be AVIANCA. It is also expected the end of the use of IATA codes like “TA”, “LR” and “GU” for simply “AV”. TACA was founded in 1931 in Honduras by the New Zealander Lowell Yerex. He later sold the airline to TWA, the latter sold it to Waterman Steamship Company of New Orleans and finally in the 1950s the airline was bought by the Salvadorean Kriete family. Indeed 2013 is the end of an era, Yerex once great airline.