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Old October 16th, 2004, 01:55 AM   #1
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South American Airlines Face Bumpy Ride Amid Legal Woes
15 October 2004
Dow Jones International News
By Amy Guthrie

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Political and legal hurdles are taking some major South American airlines on a bumpy ride.

Government interventions, foreign ownership limits and precarious financial situations have major carriers reeling in Peru, Brazil and Colombia.

This week, the Peruvian government suspended Chilean carrier Lan Airlines SA's (LFL) flying permit for failing to meet local ownership requirements. The order affects both national and international flights for Lan's local unit, LanPeru, which is the Andean nation's second-largest airline.

Lan owns 49% of LanPeru, while another 21% is owned by a separate Lan-controlled company. LanPeru President Emilio Rodriguez-Larrain, who owns the rest of the carrier, called the flight suspension "regrettable."

"We are confident that this decision will be overturned in light of our arguments and the evidence that we have presented," Rodriguez-Larrain told journalists Thursday.

LanPeru runs 11 national flights and 11 international flights a day, and shoulders about 35% of Peru's cargo market. The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency earlier this week in the airline industry, which will allow other airline companies to lease aircraft in order to offer more flights.

"This is the risk of working in Latin America. Sometimes the rules aren't clear," said Gavin Templeton, an analyst who covers Lan for IM Trust in Santiago.

Templeton is confident that Lan will get over the hurdle in Peru and work around other difficulties that might pop up in the future. Lan has 52 passenger aircraft and seven dedicated freighters, making it one of the biggest and most profitable carriers in Latin America, with net income of $137.7 million for the 12 months ending in June.

The skies aren't so clear, though, for Brazilian carrier Vasp, which appears to be slowly fading away. The airline, founded in 1933, doesn't have enough liquidity to cover basic expenses and has seen its market share shrink in recent years to 8.5%. The company is currently operating on a six-month emergency license granted by the government, pending presentation of a comprehensive debt plan.

Flagship operator Varig, which serves about 30% of the Brazilian market, is also facing some turbulent times. Varig has reduced its fleet size at an alarming rate, prompting analysts to predict that the Brazilian government will step in to save the carrier.

"If Varig goes away, Brazil would have a major crisis," said an analyst at a Wall Street firm who declined to be named.

Varig runs more than 80% of Brazil's international routes, making the possibility of it folding a potential disaster. Government assistance, though, may not come until Vasp is out of the picture, warned the Wall Street analyst, so as to avoid having to prop up Vasp as well.

Observers are somewhat more optimistic about prospects for Colombian carrier Avianca, which is being courted by several investors and is expected to emerge from bankruptcy protection later this year.

Bob Booth, chairman of Aviation Management Services, a Miami consulting firm, is pulling for the offer from Sinergy, which proposed in March pumping $64 million into Avianca and assuming nearly $300 million of the company's debt in return for a 75% stake in the world's second-oldest airline.

Synergy is owned by Brazilian oil magnate German Efromovich, who also controls OceanAir, an air taxi company that serves Brazil's oil industry and operates regional routes serving more than 30 cities. A Synergy purchase could bring Avianca into the Brazilian market.

The other offer on the table for Avianca comes from an unnamed Arab investor who has approached the Colombian pilots union. Ultimately, Avianca's fate will be decided by Manhattan bankruptcy Judge Allan L. Gropper.

-By Amy Guthrie, Dow Jones Newswires; (5255) 5080-3453; [email protected]

(Robert Kozak in Lima and Diana Delgado in Bogota contributed to this report) [ 15-10-04 1135GMT ]
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Old January 25th, 2005, 06:42 PM   #2
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The problem with air companies over here in South America is that their tickets are ULTRA expensive. Mind you, last week I was just checking some fare prices in Expedia and I discovered that a NYC - London return ticket costs 340 dollars! That's a 7 hour flight, in South America a Sao Paulo - Buenos Aires ticket costs the same, and it's a 2:30 hour flight!

Varig has been in a bad situation for years and they have already received aid from the government. VASP is almost folding, they have cancelled all their flights for this week and they intend to cancel all the flights for the next 15 days. Holy christ!

Gol is EXCELLENT. I flew with them to Sao Paulo in the beginning of the month and it was very good, good plane, good service, they even served us a snack (cereal bar), and uh, you don't need more than that for a 50 minute flight and just 50 dollars!

And it seems Avianca has already been bought by the Sinergy group.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 06:48 PM   #3
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^ Competition does a lot of wonders. In fact, I notice Air France and Lufthansa are offering transatlantic flights for US300 during the winter low-season. Comparatively, prices flying out from neighboring Canada costs almost double that amount.

I believe South American airlines need to grow and mature a bit more before national goverments will allow more foreign competition.
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Old January 26th, 2005, 05:51 AM   #4
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Does anyone have a list over the market share of airlines in South America?
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Old January 26th, 2005, 04:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drwho
Does anyone have a list over the market share of airlines in South America?
nops, but I'd like to see it too.


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Old January 28th, 2005, 04:16 AM   #6
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Do any S. American carriers operate 747s still?
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Old January 28th, 2005, 04:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RafflesCity
Do any S. American carriers operate 747s still?
yup, Aerolineas Argentinas and I think Varig
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Old January 28th, 2005, 05:37 AM   #8
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Southern Winds (Argentina) also do it...
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Old January 28th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boom
The problem with air companies over here in South America is that their tickets are ULTRA expensive. Mind you, last week I was just checking some fare prices in Expedia and I discovered that a NYC - London return ticket costs 340 dollars! That's a 7 hour flight, in South America a Sao Paulo - Buenos Aires ticket costs the same, and it's a 2:30 hour flight!
Yeah, in the 90's I remember it was actually cheaper to fly Sao Paulo to New York than from Sao Paulo to Fortaleza!
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Old January 28th, 2005, 12:29 PM   #10
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Oh no. I've always thought that VASP had the coolest Airline colors.
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Old March 8th, 2005, 06:20 PM   #11
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Chile Airline Lan: Has Held Talks With Argentine Carrier
07 March 2005

SANTIAGO (Dow Jones)--As it pursues expansion into Argentina, Chilean airline Lan SA (LFL) has held preliminary talks with troubled carrier Southern Winds as well as the Argentine government, the company said Monday.

Lan, which wants to become the region's top airline, has sought to expand to Argentina for some time.

"In this context, the company has held talks with the Argentine government and also with Southern Winds," Lan said.

"Once this interest is materialized in concrete agreements, the company will communicate this at an opportune moment," it added.

Coming off record earnings in 2004, the company needs to expand to maintain a strong pace of growth, analysts say.

But after expanding to the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru, Lan hasn't hatched fledgling airlines recently, despite manifest interest to do so in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.

Argentina and Brazil lie at the top of the target list, Chief Financial Officer Alejandro de la Fuente said last week.

Meanwhile, Southern Winds has suffered severe turbulence in recent weeks.

Technically a private company, it has planes and flight slots, but its staffing comes from state airline LAFSA.

On Feb. 24, the Argentine government failed to renew an 18-month cooperation agreement between LAFSA and Southern Winds, which is embroiled in a drug trafficking scandal involving cocaine-laden baggage sent to Spain.

The government created LAFSA in July 2003 so that 800 former workers at defunct airlines Lapa and Dinar would have jobs.

The airline didn't have any planes of its own, so officials brokered a deal with Southern Winds. The private carrier agreed to infrastructure-sharing rights with LAFSA in exchange for fuel subsidies.

The populist government of President Nestor Kirchner has taken an active role in public services.

But it appears Kirchner isn't eager to wade into the airline sector, given the drug-trafficking scandal and ongoing blame game between government authorities and Southern Winds over responsibility for the scandal.

Beyond Lan, Argentine media have also pegged Brazilian carrier TAM Linhas Aereas SA (TANC4.BR) as an interested party in LAFSA.

- By Stephan Kueffner, Dow Jones Newswires
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Old March 8th, 2005, 09:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RafflesCity
Do any S. American carriers operate 747s still?
From what I know, the only South American carriers operating the 747 in passenger service are Aerolineas Argentinas, Southern Winds and Surinam Airways....operating their sole (ex-KLM) 747-300 to/from Amsterdam 3 times a week:




Varig 747s have been withdrawn from service in the mid-90's.......

Last edited by Srananbloke; March 9th, 2005 at 05:12 PM.
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Old March 14th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #13
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Chile LAN Airlines says Feb traffic rose 14.3 pct.

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 14 (Reuters) - Chile's dominant airline, LAN Airlines (LAN.SN) (LFL.N), said on Monday its passenger traffic rose 14.3 percent in February compared with the same month last year, on strong international traffic due to new routes to Peru.

The airline said international passenger traffic jumped 18.8 percent for the month, while domestic passenger traffic fell 3.8 percent due to reduced capacity after the airline scaled back domestic flights.

LAN's cargo traffic rose almost 14 percent in February, mostly due to strong growth in exports from South America during the period.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 09:03 AM   #14
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Spain's Marsans denies plans to sell Aerolineas Argentinas
15 March 2005

MADRID (AFX) - Spanish tour operator Marsans said it is not seeking to sell its 97.9 pct stake in Aerolineas Argentinas, denying an earlier report in El Mundo.

'This information is totally false,' Marsans sources said.

They noted, however, that Marsans maintains plans for the air carrier, such as including Argentine investors as part of its core shareholders and listing part of the airline in the stock market.

El Mundo said Marsans has hired two investment banks to find a buyer for its 97.9 pct stake in the Argentine air carrier, while noting that it has not totally ruled out seeking a financial partner for the business and keeping a majority stake.

Marsans acquired Aerolineas Argentinas in 2001 for some 615 mln usd.
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Old March 19th, 2005, 08:38 AM   #15
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Chile's Lan Seeks 20%-25% Of Argentina Airline Mkt -Report
17 March 2005

BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)--Chilean airline Lan SA (LFL), which announced its entrance into the Argentine airline sector last week, wants to capture between 20% and 25% of the domestic market in two years, the company's head of Argentine operations told local media Thursday.

In an interview with financial daily Ambito Financiero, Franciso Vidal said Lan is aiming to grow to 1,500 employees in Argentina in two years as well. A 20% to 25% piece of the local market would notably undercut the dominance of national flagcarrier Aerolineas Argentinas (AR.YY), which has an 85% market share.

Last week, Lan said it had reached a preliminary accord with the Argentine government to absorb 800 workers of state airline company LAFSA, created in 2003 to house employees of two defunct Argentine carries. In addition, Lan is guaranteeing operations at troubled private carrier Southern Winds for 90 days and is in negotiations to acquire a third Argentine airline.

The Chilean company is setting up a new local subsidiary, Lan Argentina, which will have 49% foreign ownership and 51% in the hands of local investors.

Vidal told the newspaper that Lan's purchase of an Argentine airline will give it control over routes, though it will need to go through a public hearing to bid for destination cities.

"The reason for buying a local company is the speed that gives us to enter the Argentine market: they have a ready portfolio," he was quoted as saying. "Between those possibilities, definitely, is not the purchase of Southern Winds. I don't deny that we've looked at it, but we're opting for other alternatives."

Vidal declined to comment on the reported sale of Aerolineas Argentinas, whose spokesman told a local news agency this week that its majority shareholder, Spanish travel group Marsans (GMSN.YY), was seeking to reduce its stake in Aerolineas Argentinas or sell its Argentine assets altogether. Marsans officials were later quoted in Spanish media denying a sale, and the matter remains unresolved.

Southern Winds filed for bankruptcy Wednesday. Vidal clarified that Lan's agreement to guarantee operations at that airline means passenger transport, not direct monetary support or a fuel subsidy like the one Southern Winds had been receiving under an 18-month agreement with LAFSA. The government let that arrangement lapse in February, when Southern Winds became embroiled in a drug-trafficking scandal.

In the interview with the newspaper, Vidal acknowledged Argentine airline workers' protests against Lan. The union, which is resisting LAFSA employees' absorption into Lan Argentina, demonstrated at Buenos Aires' regional airport Thursday morning and is threatening to disrupt service next week during the busy four-day Easter vacation period.

"We're going to absorb the 800 employees of LAFSA and not any other companies," Vidal said. "We know of the demonstrations against this, but we separate what is union activity from people's desire to work."

Vidal added: "We didn't come here to eliminate competitors, rather to make the airline market grow ... In none of the countries where we are have we taken anyone out of the market ... Nor will we apply predatory fares: we've never done that."

Vidal said Lan plans to incorporate 90 airplanes between now and 2008, though the company's entrance into Argentina will call for at least a dozen more.

- By Wailin Wong, Dow Jones Newswires
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Old March 31st, 2005, 06:20 AM   #16
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Latin American Airlines Traffic Up 18% In January
30 March 2005
Dow Jones News Service

SANTIAGO (Dow Jones)--Latin American airlines carried 6.5 million passengers in January, 18% more than in the same month a year ago, the Latin American Airline Association, or Aital, said Wednesday.

Intra-Latin American routes showed the most notable growth, rising 35% over January 2004 to reach 1.2 million passengers.

Domestic traffic grew 15% in the month, with 3.8 million passengers carried, while traffic to the U.S. and Canada from Latin American countries increased 15% to almost 1 million passengers.

Capacity rose 12% in January, reaching 15,044 million available seat kilometers, or ASKs. Intra-Latin American routes jumped 31%, while routes to the U.S. and Canada increased 12.5%, according to Aital data. Passenger load factor reached 72.2, up 3.5% on the year.

Freight-ton kilometers carried in passenger services grew 2.2% in January from the year before, while freight-ton kilometers carried in all-cargo services fell 2.1%, the association said.
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Old April 8th, 2005, 06:36 PM   #17
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Boeing Projects Another Strong Sales Yr In Latin America
06 April 2005

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--A Boeing Co. (BA) official said Wednesday the company expects another strong sales year in Latin America.

"We see some strong demand in Latin America," said John Wojick, Boeing's vice president of sales for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based company sold 34 planes in the region last year, representing about 12% of the 280 units it sold worldwide in 2004.

Last year was one of the best sales years the company has had in the region in some time, Wojick noted.

Wojick ticked off a list of Boeing customers in Latin America, such as Chilean carrier Lan Airlines SA (LFL), that are flying high and could demand more aircraft.

Worldwide, Boeing delivered 70 aircraft in the first quarter of 2005, putting the manufacturer on track to meet its full-year forecast of 320 units.

AeroMexico, one of Mexico's two flagship carriers, has planned its international service growth around Boeing technology.

New aircraft leases should help the carrier increase service on popular routes like Mexico City-Madrid, said Carlos Bonilla, director of corporate communications for AeroMexico.

"We'll continue to add to the fleet as the market permits," Bonilla said.

AeroMexico has incorporated 16 new Boeing craft into its 70-plane fleet since undertaking a modernization plan in 2003. The company has also ordered two specially designed aircraft that are due to operate in early 2006.

Mexico's other major airline, Mexicana, primarily employs planes designed by European aircraft maker Airbus (ABI.YY), and has been updating its 60-unit fleet over the past five years.

The Mexican government hopes to sell AeroMexico and Mexicana separately by early 2006. The carriers have acted almost as a monopoly since their combination in the early 1990s.

The government rescued the airlines and related assets from financial problems in 1995 and created holding company Cintra SA (CINTRA.MX) to manage them. Credit Suisse First Boston is managing the airline sale. Foreign investors are limited to 25% voting stakes in the carriers.
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Old April 10th, 2005, 06:43 PM   #18
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Peru Denies Airport Group Request For Transit Fee
07 April 2005

LIMA (Dow Jones)--Regulatory agency Ositran has ruled that the Lima Airport Partners, or LAP, consortium can't charge airline passengers for using Lima's main airport when they transfer from one flight to another.

In a statement released late Wednesday, Ositran said that passengers already pay a fee for using the airport, the so-called TUUA.

"The concession contract doesn't give LAP the right to charge passengers in transit," Ositran President Alejandro Chang said on CPN radio Thursday.

In a statement, LAP said it was evaluating legal measures to protect its investments in Lima's Jorge Chavez airport.

"With its decision Ositran is exonerating passengers in transit from paying for the services that they receive in the airport during a stop over in Lima," LAP said.

Ositran's Chang said that LAP wanted to charge up to $28.24 per passenger, and he also ruled out any appeal.

"The theme of appealing can't be considered. What we have done is confirm an opinion that has been made before, which is that LAP can't charge a fee for transfers for passengers who come from another country and change flights," Chang said.

LAP, controlled by Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (FRA.XE) and Alterra Partners, took over management of the Lima airport in 2001 with a 30-year contract.

It has invested millions of dollars to improve the once-shoddy airport.

Ositran also is evaluating the final rate that LAP will be able to charge airlines for the use of newly installed walkways from the airplanes to the terminal.

Various airline companies have complained that proposed fees for using the walkways are too high. The airlines are also concerned about high fueling costs at the airport.

In 2004, Lima had 5,077,295 passengers, an 11.9% increase from the previous year.

LAP eventually plans to construct a new runway, a hotel at the airport and to keep expanding the terminal.

Lima's airport, opened in 1965, receives more than 90% of Peru's air traffic.
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Old May 7th, 2005, 04:42 AM   #19
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Peru Aims To Sell TANS Airline Stake To Air China-Reports
6 May 2005

LIMA (Dow Jones)--The Peruvian government is promoting the sale of a stake in state-owned airline TANS to Air China Ltd. (0753.HK), reports said.

"We are in preliminary conversations with Air China for this objective," Foreign Affairs Ministry Adviser Mario Roggero was quoted as saying in government newspaper El Peruano on Friday.

Roggero told newspaper Gestion that meetings between Peruvian and Chinese officials took place on April 18 and 19.

He said the negotiations started well, but added that, "There is a long road yet."

Roggero said that the government could sell up to a 70% stake to Air China, while the Peruvian government would reserve the right to eventually sell the remaining portion.

Peru is working to boost tourism from China and to have the Lima airport become a hub for Chinese tourists wanting to visit elsewhere in South America.

"The idea is to capture Chinese tourists, which would not only allow an increase in the transport of people but also of cargo as exports grow, especially of agricultural products, to this country (China)," he told Gestion.

A second meeting, including officials of various Peruvian government departments, could take place next week, he said.

TANS Peru, run by Peru's air force, started providing flights in Peru's jungle regions in 1963. In 1998, the government decided to allow it to fly nationally. It operates a number of flights within Peru.
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Old May 7th, 2005, 04:42 AM   #20
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Peru and Brazil to triple air flights, eye tourism

LIMA, Peru, May 6 (Reuters) - Brazil and Peru have agreed to more than triple the frequency of airline flights between the two South American nations to lift bilateral trade and tourism, Peru's government said on Friday.

The accord signed by aviation authorities of both countries will allow 28 flights a week, up from the current quota of eight per week, which Peru says does not meet demand.

"The pact was signed on Thursday in Lima ... and will give a big boost to tourism and bilateral trade," a Transport and Communications Ministry spokesman told Reuters.

El Salvador's Grupo TACA airline and Brazil's Varig are the only two airlines that fly directly between Peru and Brazil. Chilean flag carrier LAN , which owns Peru's top airline LanPeru, is interested in starting direct flights, a LanPeru spokeswoman said.

Brazil's OceanAir, which last year bought Colombian airline Avianca, said in December it would begin running domestic flights in Peru via its Wayra Peru unit. It is currently waiting for a flight permit from Peruvian authorities.

Bilateral trade between Peru and Brazil is small but both countries want to increase commerce, underlined by plans to build a $700 million highway linking the two countries.

Home to South America's most famous archeological site, Machu Picchu, Peru expects more than a million tourists this year and more than two million in 2010, as visitors flock to enjoy its mountains and rain forest.

Brazil boasts some of the world's most stunning beaches, its annual Carnival and cities such as Rio de Janeiro.

Peru, which wants to become one of the world's most open traders by 2020, has signed or amplified several aviation agreements in recent months with countries including Spain, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

It is trying to persuade Beijing-based Air China to take a share in small Peruvian state airline TANS.
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