BOGOTA, Colombia–Panama City-registered Avianca Holdings reported third-quarter net profits of $33.2 million, down 7.6% from $35.9 million posted in the year-ago period. Operating revenues were $1.23 billion, up 3.9% year-over-year, as expenses rose 10.2% to $1.16 billion. Resulting operating income for the quarter came to $70.3 million, down 46.9% from $132.2 million in the September 2013 quarter. Avianca attributed the results to “redeployed capacity (ASKs) as well as the strong demand observed in the Colombian domestic market and … the entry into operation of the Bogota-London route.” Avianca’s third-quarter traffic grew 5.3% year-over-year to 8.7 billion RPKs on a 6.1% rise in capacity to 10.7 billion ASKs, creating a quarterly load factor of 81.3%, down 0.7 point from the 2013 third quarter. The company carried 6.9 million passengers during the quarter, up 7.5% from the 6.4 million passengers transported in the third quarter of 2013. Yield dropped 0.8% year-over-year to 11.9 cents. CASK excluding-fuel was up 5.8% year-over-year to 7.5 cents.nThird-quarter EBITDAR fell 14.8% year-over-year to $202.5 million. In the company’s quarterly results analysis, Avianca Holdings CEO Fabio Villegas Ramirez said, “Our cargo traffic expressed in RTKs grew 27% … resulting in an improvement of 600 basis points in load factor when compared to the third quarter of 2013,” Villegas said. “In addition, we have made further progress … with the completion of the acquisition of a stake of Aerounion in Mexico and the new commercial agreement with Etihad … which enables the company to improve its inbound cargo operation from Los Angeles via Mexico as well as enhancing connectivity to Europe.” On October 20th, Avianca Cargo and Etihad Cargo announced a commercial partnership agreement involving the deployment of freighter flights from Avianca’s Bogotá, Colombia, hub at El Dorado International Airport to Milan’s Malpensa Airport and Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The twice-a-week service commenced operations November 12th. During the quarter, Avianca took delivery of 10 new aircraft: two Airbus A321s, two A320s and two A319s, plus four ATR-72s slotted to operate on the company’s domestic Colombian and Central American routes. Two ATR-42s were taken out of service. As of September 30th, Avianca’s fleet comprised 180 aircraft—165 of which are currently operational—including: 58 A320s (27 on operating lease); 36 A319s (17 on operating lease); 12 Embraer E-190s (two on operating lease); 11 ATR-72s; 11 A330s (10 on operating lease); 10 A318s (all on operating lease); 10 Cessna Grand Caravans; nine ATR-42s (five on operating lease); eight A-321s (six on operating lease); five A330 freighters; five Fokker 100s; three Boeing 767 freighters (one on operating lease) and two Fokker 50s.
SAO PAULO, Brazil–Low Cost Carrier Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras S.A. announced it has ordered an Airbus A-330 airliner to start flight operations between Sao Paulo (Viracopos Airport) and Fort Lauderdale, Florida and New York-JFK. David Neeleman the Azul’s CEO wants the airline to connect with both of JetBlue’s connecting hubs. The Brazilian newspaper “Folha de Sao Paulo” indicated that Azul’s service to the United States should start before the end of 2014. This will be the third Brazilian airline to operate to the U.S. after TAM Airlines (Miami, Orlando and New York-JFK) and GOL Airlines (Miami).
ASUNCION, Paraguay–In 1962 the Paraguayan Military Aviation founded LAP (Lineas Aereas Paraguayas) with three Convair CV-240s from Asuncion to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Sao Paulo and Curitiba. In 1978 LAP started operations from Asuncion to Miami with a Boeing 707-320. In 1994 LAP ceased operations and the airline was sold to SAETA of Ecuador and later to Brazilian carrier TAM that absorbed it and renamed it as TAM-Mercosur. AeroLap Paraguay Airlines is an Asunción based start-up backed by foreign investment group, AeroLap. The start-up is effectively a renamed relaunch of defunct LAP. AeroLap Paraguay Airlines plans to launch three times weekly Asunción-Madrid services, being the only country in southern South America lacking the link, with two dry-leased Boeing 767 aircraft. However, according to Paraguayan regulator DINAC director Luis Aguirre, it is now believed that authorisation for the services may actually come in October 2014. Its also expected AeroLap Paraguay Airlines to start flights to Miami.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–Air Costa Rica is the new brand name of Tica Air according to the Public Registry of the airline, which has launched the second phase of a certificationn process and expects to receive approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation within four to six months to operate as an international airline. The first stage of the airline’s plans include starting with charter flights to other countries in the region and then opening international routes to the United States, Nicaragua, Panama City and Colombia. Carlos Víquez, the director responsible for the formation of the airline , told El Financiero (EF) that “Civil Aviation now have 10 days to review the technical information provided, as the legal and financial documents have already been accepted. After that period, the government entity will usually provide a list of differences, for which the company has 30 working days to respond. ” Air Costa Rica is a company whose associates, George Novey and Eduardo Stagg, also own Air Panama. This company has operated since 2006 and has over 300 employees and 18 aircraft. Its core business is domestic flights in Panama and its only international route so far is San Jose. Last February, Stagg informed El Financiero that it was interested in operating a route to Miami from San Jose, taking advantage of the fact that Avianca had left that slot empty after closing the former LACSA hub at Juan Santamaria International Airport. They have also announced flights to Managua, Panama and San Andrés. Air Costa Rica would operate one of the Boeing 737-300s that Air Panama has purchased. At the moment Air Costa Rica seems to be the most probable Costa Rican carrier to start air services as Ticos Air has not been able to take off and has lost momentum.
LIBERIA, Costa Rica–JetBlue Airways has announced new services between Boston and Liberia, Guanacaste effective November 1st 2014. This will be the fourth route of the U.S. carrier into Costa Rica (the airline already operates Orlando-San Jose, Fort Lauderdale-San Jose and New York-Liberia). The high season of the Golden Coast of Costa Rica starts in November and finishes in May. The region is considered one of the most popular destinations of “Sun, beaches and adventure” featuring five star resorts like Four Seasons, Hyatt Andaz, Hilton, Westin, JW Marriott and by 2014 new resorts like AM Resorts The Dreams and Melia Paradisus will open its doors. The new flight will offer tourists from Massachusetts and beyond the perfect sunny destination in Central America. Guanacaste is also one of the favorite places for Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and lately Beyonce that attended the wedding of her friend Kelly Rowland with Tim Witherspoon.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–By the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 new airlines will start services to Costa Rica. One new airline will start flights from California informed Marc Bourreau, a consultant of the Costa Rican Tourism Board. The airline was not mentioned but analysts believe could be Alaska Airlines or Virgin America. The other flight will connect Paris with San Jose via the Dominican Republic, most likely XL Airways that already operates from Charles de Gaulle to Punta Cana. The Costa Rican Tourism Board presented May 7th a detailed document with all the accomplishements of the past four years in regards to connectivity of Costa Rica with the world. At the moment San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport is serviced by 16 airlines and Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport is serviced by 11 carriers. The Costa Rican government through the ICT (Costa Rican Tourist Board) with the support of AERIS and Coriport have been making initial contacts with airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Southwest, Allegiant, Eastern Airlines, XL Airways, GOL, TAME, Transaero Airlines and Aeroflot in the last months pursuing future services to both international airports. Effective May 8th a new president takes over and the new Minister of Tourism, Wilhem von Breymann will be in charge of luring more airlines to Costa Rica, still the powerhouse of tourism in Central America.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador–VECA Airlines (Vuelos Economicos de Centro America) the new start-up airline and El Salvador’s flag carrier established in late 2013 in San Salvador, El Salvador is close to start its international operations. The main airline hub is located in San Salvador at Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (formerly Comalapa International Airport). The airline is expected to commence service in June 2014 with regional service to major cities in Central America. VECA Airlines is expected to start their services with two Airbus A-319 leased from lessor International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The first of these, a former Cyprus Airways aircraft, has already been delivered to the carrier, while its sistership is being prepared in Miami, Florida ahead of its official handover to the start-up. Both aircraft will be configured in a single-class, 144-seat economy class arrangement. The start-up intends to bring competition into the Central American market following the recent merger of Avianca and TACA Airlines. Several former TACA Airlines employees work now at VECA Airlines, the new runner up as the Salvadorian major airline after the absorption of TACA Airlines by the Colombian flag carrier. It is unclear if VECA Airlines will expand it’s “Wings” beyong the Central American countries but Salvadorian and Nicaraguan authorities hope the airline would open flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York and Washington-DC. VECA Airlines will operate to Guatemala City, San Pedro-Sula, Managua, Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica. The Juan Santamaria International Airport will be VECA Airlines secondary airport.
MIAMI, Florida–A group of American Leisure travel agents have declared the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica as the hottest destination in 2014. The opening of Liberia’s International Airport (official name: Daniel Oduber International Airport) has triggered a development of new hotel and resort properties. Last December Hyatt opened its first Central American resort, the Andaz Papagayo Bay. This hotel has already been named one of the best resorts in 2014: http://www.cntraveler.com/hot-list/2014/best-new-hotels-world-photos_slideshow_Andaz-Peninsula-Papagayo-_17. In February Preferred Boutique Resorts opened El Mangroove at Panama Beach, also in the Papagayo Bay. For November 2014 AM Resorts will opened The Dreams Las Mareas at the beautiful Salinas Bay: http://www.dreamsresorts.com/las-mareas. For 2015 two new additional resorts will open: Melia Paradisus Papagayo Bay and the FEN Resort at Tamarindo Beach. Future projects include: a Marriott, a Wyndham, a Mandarin Oriental and a super deluxe Rosewood Resort in Monte del Barco. Guanacaste is often called “The Golden Coast” or the Costa Rican Riviera. The growth and development of new high end resorts has places the region as the hottest destination for Honeymoons and Weddings, Golfing and Meetings & Incentives. Liberia International Airport is serviced by American Airlines, Jetblue, United, USAirways, Frontier Airlines, DELTA Airlines, Sun Country, Air Canada, West Jet, Sun Wing Airlines and Air Transat from North American cities, plus COPA and Avianca from Panama City and San Salvador respectively. Domestic airlines SANSA and Nature Air operate flights from San Jose.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico–Mexicana de Aviacion (known as Mexicana Airlines) which suspended flights four years ago due to its heavy debt load, was declared bankrupt on April 5th, paving the way to dismantle the iconic company, once one of Mexico’s top two carriers. About 30 investors sought for more than three years to rescue the airline, which has an estimated debt of $1 billion, but none proved to have the necessary funds. On Friday the 5th, the communications and work ministries said the courts had approved an agreement to proceed with the bankruptcy presented by Mexicana’s majority creditors: Mexican bank Banorte, development bank Bancomext and Mexico’s International Airport. The statement revealed no details of the agreement among creditors of Mexicana, which stopped flying 90 years after it was founded. Mexicana’s MRO maintenance base, valued at between $80 million and $100 million, will continue operating. Resources it obtains will go toward a trust that benefits Mexicana’s 8,000 workers and 600 retirees. Mexicana’s three major unions are considering a challenge to the declaration of bankruptcy, local media reported. Most of the routes once operated by Mexicana have been taken by AeroMexico, Interjet and VOLARIS.
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica will eliminate the visa requirement for citizens of the Russian Federation as a measure to increase tourism and investments from that country, immigration and tourism officials said on Monday.The measure will allow a maximum stay of up to 30 days that can be extended for up to 90 days for each Russian citizen. The decree already was approved and will be published in coming days in the official newspaper La Gaceta, Tourism Minister Allan Flores said. The number of Russian tourists currently visiting Costa Rica is low: Only 4,146 tourists from that country entered Costa Rica in 2013, Flores said. A study by the Costa Rican Tourism Board last year said Russian tourists who would be interested in visiting the country have incomes of more than $120,000 a year. They usually travel with their families and spend up to $5,000 during an average 11-day visit. Allan Flores also said that at least two Russian airlines are evaluating offering special flights to Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela/San Jose and Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Some of the flights would connect via the Dominican Republic and Havana, Cuba. Even though the airlines were not named Aeroflot Russian Airlines operates from Moscow to Havana and Transaero Airlines operates from Moscow to Punta Cana.