BQB Lineas Aereas (Punta del Este and Montevideo, Uruguay) has been quietly filling the void left by the demise of Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas in Montevideo since the failure on July 5, 2012. The airline, sensing an opportunity, leased in Airbus A320-214 EC-LLJ (msn 4661) from Vueling Airlines (in Vueling colors, with BQB titles) on November 28, 2013. The carrier now serves eight routes from the capital, probably dashing the hopes of reviving a new employee-lead version of Pluna. Seasonal service from Montevideo was started on December 14 to Florianapolis, Brazil. On the following day, service to Santiago, Chile was started according Anna Aero.
Copyright Photo: Robbie Shaw/AirlinersGallery.com. BQB assigns the ATR 72 on regional routes from Montevideo including Curitiba, Rivera and Salto. ATR 72-212A (ATR 72-500) CX-JCL (msn 805) taxies at Buenos Aires (Aeroparque Jorge Newbery).
BQB Lineas Aereas:
Video: The leased Vueling Airlines Airbus A320 arrives in Montevideo:
Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas (Montevideo) operated seven Bombardier CRJ900s. The government of Uruguay is planning to auction off the fleet to the highest bidder. The winning bidder will also have the first option to resume operations as the new flag carrier of Uruguay according to this report by Bloomberg.
The government of Uruguay has decided to close down its bankrupt carrier after failing to find new investors to replace investment fund Leadgate which has pulled out. Uruguay assumed control over Pluna in June 2012 after Leadgate, which controlled a 75 percent stake, refused to contribute more capital according to Reuters.
The government is considering establishing a new flag carrier.
PLUNA (Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea) was established in September 1936 and started operations on November 20, 1936.
Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas‘ (Montevideo) has cancelled all flights until tomorrow morning due to a work stoppage by its unions fearing that some positions may be eliminated. The flag carrier is facing a financial crisis and could soon file for bankruptcy. The strike and cancellations started late on July 3.
The airline issued the following list oc cancelled flights (in Spanish): CLICK HERE
In April 2010, Chorus (formerly the Jazz Air Income Fund) invested $15 million (USD) in Latin American Regional Aviation Holding Corporation (LARAH) in return for a 33.3% non-voting equity interest in the company, which translated into a 25% indirect ownership in Pluna. At the time of the investment, LARAH held an indirect 75% equity interest in Pluna; the Government of Uruguay held an indirect equity interest of 25%.
The Uruguayan government has taken control of Pluna, allowing the airline to continue operating. Chorus is working directly and cooperatively with the national government to produce and assess potential recapitalization and business plans for Pluna. As part of the proceedings, all of the shares in Pluna held indirectly by LARAH have been delivered in trust with the Montevideo Stock Exchange in return for certain conditions and indemnities from the Uruguayan government. There can be no assurances as to the extent of Chorus’ participation and involvement. Further, there can be no assurances that a successful recapitalization of Pluna will be accomplished, and if so, that Chorus will retain an equity stake or other investment therein.
Chorus is currently assessing the valuation of its original $15 million investment and how it will be accounted for in its second quarter financial disclosure planned for mid-August, 2012. The situation at Pluna has no effect on Jazz operations or current cash flows. Chorus will provide an update and share next steps upon the finalization of the review and will not speculate on the outcome or Pluna’s future.
Pluna Lineas Aereas Uruguayas‘ (Montevideo) CEO Matias Campiani, according to this Bloomberg Businessweek article, is resisting a government bailout offer, saying that unless politicians provide more protection from unfair foreign airline competition, “everything we built will collapse.” The warning was contained in a letter sent to the Pluna employees.
Pluna is halting operations on the Santiago-Concepción (Chile) route on June 11, blaming the winter conditions (fog) at the airports, which has forced them to suspend many flights and relocate its passengers to other companies.
Pluna is coming under stiff competition from other airlines but it also suffering from a sudden loss of Argentine traffic due to the recent stiff currency restrictions imposed on Argentines by the government of Argentina. Argentines who often flock to Uruguay’s beaches, are now curtaining their trips due to the restrictions. Pluna is now experiencing a plunge in traffic according to the article.