Aero Costa Rica

Delayed taking off?

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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.

Ticos Air has not been able to move forward to its third phase of certification.
Ticos Air has not been able to move forward to its third phase of certification.

 

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Ticos Air hiring personnel in Costa Rica

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Ticos Air will operate the Airbus A-319s.
Ticos Air will operate the Airbus A-319s.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–The recently formed Costa Rican airline, Ticos Air, is searching for personnel to fill several administrative and technical posts. Marketing Manager Daniel Gil said the new company plans to hire 120 employees, who will join 22 current workers to launch the airline’s operations. Gil said the company expects to begin operating its first flights in early 2014.Ticos Air provided the Civil Aviation Administration in Costa Rica (DGAC in spanish)  with the required documentation for operating permits last June. The airline will operate five Airbus 319 aircraft, and the first destinations are Mexico City, Caracas, New York and Miami.The company formed in December 2012, and has since been establishing offices in San José, hiring workers, buying planes, and conducting other preparations. TACA Airlines’ decision last May to drop five non-stop flights to Costa Rica from the United States and other countries created a market opportunity for Ticos Air and other international airlines. TACA Airlines also laid off 261 employees (pilots, flight attendants and operations) from its Costa Rica operations as part of an integration process with Colombian flag carrier airline Avianca. The airline’s website, www.ticosair.com, is currently under construction. Ticos Air will try to fill the vacuum left after the demise of Aero Costa Rica S.A. in 1997 and the full absortion of LACSA by TACA Airlines and later in 2009 by Avianca. The airline will use Juan Santamaria International Airport as its hub but it is also expected the airline will operate to Liberia International Airport in Guanacaste.

The End of an Era

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica–December 30th. At the age of 92 years, Captain Otto Escalante Wiepking died, closing a golden chapter of the Costa Rican Civil Aviation. He was only seven years old when Charles Lindbergh visited Costa Rica in the “Spirit of St. Louis” and since then he knew deep inside his life would be connected with aviation. In 1939 a young Otto Escalante graduates from highschool and a year later starts working for TACA Costa Rica in the cargo department. Once the United States joins the Allies in the Second World War, the American pilots flying in Latin America were all requested to join the armed forces, opening the possibilities for young latin men to become commercial pilots. Otto Escalante travels to the U.S. and in a year becomes a commercial pilot.  Escalante showed such professionalism, the United States Government gave him a scholarship at the Sky Harbour School of Aeronautics in Phoenix, Arizona. He returned to Costa Rica and works in several airlines like TACA Costa Rica and AVO. On March 12th 1948 he travels to Guatemala with Captain Guillermo Nuñez, flying two Douglas DC-3s. A day after Escalante and Nuñez returned to Costa Rica, the DC-3s heavy full of weapons and ammunition for Jose Figueres Ferrer’s National Liberation Army. In 1949 Otto Escalante returned to flag carrier LACSA and in 1960 he is appointed General Manager for the airline. Captain Escalante flew LACSA’s first jet in April 1967, a BAC-111-400 named “El Tico” and he kept working as a pilot until 1972 when he became CEO and President of the Board of Directors. Otto Escalante also founded Cayman Brac Airways (later Cayman Airways Ltd.) as a subsidiary of LACSA and was also SANSA’s President until he retired in 1989. Captain Escalante also served as a consultant for Aero Costa Rica S.A. (the other national airline that operated from 1992 to 1997). Today a great chapter of the civil aviation in this small nation is closed with a golden seal, that of a pioneer indeed.

Otto Escalante was LACSA's CEO and President until 1989.
Otto Escalante was LACSA’s CEO and President until 1989.

Central American Airline Cemetery

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Aerolineas Nicaraguenses S.A. (Aeronica) has been the only Central American carrier to operate the Soviet built Tupolev TU-154M.
Aerolineas Nicaraguenses S.A. (Aeronica) has been the only Central American carrier to operate the Soviet built Tupolev TU-154M.

SAN JOSE,Costa Rica–The airline cemetery in Central America is quite full now. The airline industry has changed dramatically since it was born in the 1930s in the Isthmus. Guatemala used to have airlines like AeroQuetzal, TikalJets and flag carrier Aerolineas de Guatemala (AVIATECA). The latter was absorbed by TACA International Airlines. Honduras had several carriers, Transportes Aereos Nacionales (TAN), Servicio Aereo de Honduras (SAHSA) and SOL Air. Nicaragua had Lineas Aereas de Nicaragua (LANICA) that folded its wings in 1980. The Sandinista regime created Aerolineas Nicaraguenses S.A. (AERONICA) that also closed in the 1990s. TACA International created Nicaraguense de Aviacion (NICA) that was also absorbed into GRUPO TACA in 1998. Costa Rica has been the Central American nation with the most airlines; Empresa Nacional de Transporte Aereo (ENTA), Lineas Aereas Costarricenses (LACSA), RANSA, SANSA, Vuelos Especiales Liberianos (VEL), Aero Costa Rica S.A. (ACORISA) and Aeropostal Alas de Centro America. ACORISA operated for five years and folded its wings in September 1997. LACSA and SANSA were fully absorbed by GRUPO TACA in 1998. Panama has had several airlines too; PAISA, Air Panama International, Aeroperlas and Compañia Panameña de Aviacion (COPA). Aeroperlas was purchased by GRUPO TACA and suspended operations in 2012. Air Panama International also folded its wings after Noriega was deposed, but a new domestic airline was formed using the same name. Finally El Salvador has had only one international airline; Transportes Aereos Centro Americanos (TACA International Airlines). The airline originally was founded in Honduras in 1931 but became the Salvadorian flag carrier. In the 1990s TACA bought the flag carriers of Central America and in 2009 it was merged into Colombian airline AVIANCA.  The disappearance of all these airlines and flag carriers has created the need of new start-ups. For 2014 two new airlines will appear in Central America: LCC Salvadorian airline Vuelos Economicos Centro Americanos (VECA) and Costa Rican flag carrier TICOS AIR.

New Costa Rican Flag Carrier

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Ticos Air will operate a fleet of Airbus A-319s.
Ticos Air will operate a fleet of Airbus A-319s.

SAN JOSE,Costa Rica–In 1945 Pan American World Airways founded LACSA (Lineas Aereas Costarricenses S.A.) that became the Costa Rican flag carrier. For several years LACSA controlled de Costa Rican market (domestic and international) as a true monopoly in the air. In 1992 Costa Rican entrepeneur, Calixto Chaves founded Aero Costa Rica S.A., breaking the monopolistic control of the skies by LACSA. Unfortunatelly the ill-managed airline only survived for five years. LACSA was purchased by the Salvadorian carrier TACA in the early 90s. In 2009 TACA was merged into the Colombian airline Avianca, thus ending the once proud Costa Rican flag carrier. But good news were given by Gino Renzi, the CEO of an airline founded in December 2012 as Ticos Air. In October 2013 Renzi announced Ticos Air would start services first quarter of 2014. Ticos Air will become the new flag carrier of Costa Rica. With a fleet of 5 Airbus A-319s the airline will operate from San Jose to Miami, Newark, Mexico City, Caracas and Havana.