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Old September 8th, 2005, 06:16 PM   #41
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Chilean LAN Airlines Adding Fuel Surcharge On Fares
7 September 2005

SANTIAGO (Dow Jones)--LAN Airlines SA (LFL), Chile's largest carrier, will add a $10-$60 surcharge to its one-way fares in light of rising fuel prices, the company said Wednesday.

The company attributed the need to charge its passengers the additional fee, which will vary depending on the route, to "unprecedented high fuel prices." It said it was "following the global trend in the airline industry."

The surcharge goes into effect Sept. 20, the company said in a statement.

LAN will charge domestic passengers $10 each way, regional passengers within South America and Easter Island, $20 each way, and all other international flights to and from South America, $60 each way.

These surcharges may vary with changes in international fuel prices, the company added.

According to the carrier, fuel costs represented 22% of total costs in 2004. In the first half of this year, that rose to 25%, or $279 million.

The company said it spent $84 million more for fuel in the first half of 2005, compared with the same period in 2004.
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Old September 16th, 2005, 04:17 AM   #42
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can you find something about the new runway 17R on Arturo Merino Benitez International - SCL ?????
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Old October 12th, 2005, 03:34 AM   #43
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Chile's LAN orders 25 Airbus A320 planes

PARIS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus said on Tuesday that Chile's LAN Airlines had placed firm orders for 25 planes from its A320 family plus options on an additional 15 aircraft.

Deliveries will start in 2006. LAN, Chile's leading carrier, now has a total Airbus order backlog of 36 aircraft and the new planes will replace its fleet of Boeing 737-200 jets.

The additional planes will be powered by the V2500-A5 engine of International Aero Engines -- a company owned by Pratt & Whitney , Rolls-Royce Plc , Aero Engines Corp of Japan and MTU Aero Engines .

LAN unveiled its intention to order the Airbus aircraft in late June and said the 25 planes represented a list value of $750 million.

LAN said last week passenger traffic rose 15.4 percent in September from the same month last year, due to booming international travel.

LAN is one of the biggest airlines in Latin America and has affiliates in Peru, Ecuador and Argentina.
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Old October 16th, 2005, 10:52 AM   #44
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French forensics arrive in Venezuela with results of DNA tests from plane crash
14 October 2005

MARACAIBO, Venezuela (AP) - A French forensic team presented to Venezuelan authorities Friday the results of DNA tests confirming the identities of victims in an August plane crash that killed all 160 people aboard, mostly from the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

The meeting between the French forensics and Venezuelan military officials in the western city of Maracaibo is a step prior to completing repatriation of the victims' remains, said Roxana Portillo, spokeswoman at Maracaibo Air Base. Officials refused to give further details.

The West Caribbean Airways plane was returning to Martinique after a chartered trip to Panama when it crashed on Aug. 16 in a remote part of western Venezuela.

The remains of the eight Colombian crew and three other victims were sent home earlier. Those of the remaining 149 victims are scheduled to be sent to Martinique on Oct. 29.

A plane carrying coffins was being sent from Paris to help with the repatriation, officials said.

Repatriation has been delayed by difficulties in identifying the bodies, most of which were torn up in the crash.

Lt. Col. Lorllys Ramos Acevedo, chief of the Venezuelan crash investigation board, said Friday that "still nothing is clear" about the cause of the accident.

West Caribbean Airways, a small Colombian airline, has said it did not cut corners on safety and that the jet passed a safety inspection the day before it crashed.

Venezuelan officials have said they don't believe weather was a factor in the accident.

The plane's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were flown to France for analysis, the results of which have not been released.
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Old October 22nd, 2005, 07:19 AM   #45
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LatAm Airliners Poised To Soar On Strong Passenger Growth
By Claudia Assis
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
21 October 2005

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Even with profit margins squeezed by higher jet fuel prices, airlines from large markets in Latin America are seeing their prospects for earnings growth climb steadily higher.

Such are the advantages of doing business in a part of the world where flying is still synonymous with affluence, but where large swaths of the population are joining the middle class, and able to skip the bus and purchase airfare.

Moreover, traditional state-owned "legacy" airliners are making way for new, and profitable, budget carriers.

"The sector does look attractive," said Urban Larson, who manages about $200 million in Latin American equities at Baring Asset Management in Boston.

There's an attractive market in Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico, where airfares - and demand - are still quite high, said Larson, who noted he holds positions in the sector but declined to be more specific about them.

He sees particularly good prospects for budget airlines in the region, unlike in many developed markets, where passenger growth prospects are far more limited.

"Clearly, that's where the growth is," he said. Latin Americans who couldn't afford flying before are stepping into planes now, thanks especially to no-frills airlines such as Brazil's Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes (GOL).

The number of passengers on commercial flights in Latin America in August, the latest month for which figures are available, totaled 6.9 million, an increase of 14.7% on year, according to the Miami-based International Air Transport Association for Latin America.

Mexico has two operating no-frills airlines, Avolar and Click Mexicana, a unit of legacy, government-controlled Mexicana, and others are in the works. A third Mexican budget air carrier, Aerolineas ABC Interjet, said recently it plans to take off in December.

In addition, the Mexican government plans to sell later this year its stakes on Mexicana and Mexico's other legacy airline, AeroMexico. Both companies enjoyed for decades a near-duopoly in domestic air travel.

While Spain's heavyweight carrier Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA (IBLA.MC) has dropped out of the bidding for Mexicana and AeroMexico, several others are expected to bid, said government airline holding company Cintra SA (CINTRA.MX), which controls the two airlines.

Gol, Brazil's only budget airline, has announced its interest in entering the Mexican market as well, possibly partnering with a Mexican company.

Gol has enjoyed being the sole no-frill option in its native Brazil, but its entrance in Mexico would not be without a hitch, said Citigroup analyst Steve Trent. "Mexico is a different story because there seems to be a number of players that want to do the same thing that Gol does," Trent said.

Gol not only didn't face competition in its business model, but also took advantage of the dismantling of failed air carriers Viacao Aerea de Sao Paulo, or Vasp, and Transbrasil. It has also indirectly benefited from the problems with debt-laden Viacao Aerea Rio Grandense, or Varig (VAGV4.BR), which filed for bankruptcy in June.

While high oil prices have been a tough pill for airlines across the region to swallow, Gol is in a better position than most because of its price structure, a strong balance sheet and a solid leadership, Trent said.

"Gol has a winning model in our view. Earnings momentum is impressive," he said.

Both Gol and Chile's Lan Airlines SA (LFL) are on track for growth, said Ben Laidler, an analyst with UBS Investment Research in Santiago.

Lan, Chile's flagship carrier, is trying its hand in neighboring Argentina. It recently started five routes within Argentina and started its first international route, the profitable Buenos Aires-Miami.

It is safe to say that Lan's expansion to Argentina is going pretty well, Laidler said. The company wants to enjoy a 30% market share by the end of next year and is well on track to reach that goal, he added.

Argentina's legacy carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas (AR.YY), is not much of a concern for Lan, Laidler noted. Lan has newer planes, offers a better web of routes than Aerolineas Argentinas and is part of the OneWorld Alliance - a grouping of eight airlines that, in addition to Lan, includes Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia and Qantas Airways.

"It was a well-thought through expansion," Laidler said.

One of the advantages of Lan over other carriers is the Chilean company's cargo business, which represents 45% of the airline revenues, he said. Unlike the passenger business, it is standard practice in the cargo area to charge surcharges for oil price hikes, and Lan has been doing it for years. "It gives Lan a de facto fuel hedge," Laidler said.

Apart from sure winners like Gol and Lan, smaller airlines in the region are tougher bets, Laidler said.

Because they are in smaller markets, they tend to be less efficient, fly older, less fuel-efficient planes and have fewer coveted routes.

The dynamics of a smaller market also preclude other budget airlines from coming to Latin America, excepting Mexico and Brazil, Laidler said.

The no-frills model works best in larger markets. Elsewhere, "you just don't have that many cities to connect," he said. The budget airline model also relies on secondary airports, and many cities in Latin America don't have secondary airports available.

In the medium-term, UBS' Laidler sees Gol adding at least a couple of international routes and Lan tweaking the Argentine expansion.

Margins will be squeezed by jet fuel prices, "but these guys seem to be weathering the storm so far."
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Old October 25th, 2005, 06:47 AM   #46
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Chile Lan Airlines Seen Posting Sharp Fall In 3Q Net Pft
By Patricia San Juan
24 October 2005

SANTIAGO (Dow Jones)--Surging fuel costs are expected to have driven third-quarter net profit sharply lower on the year at Chilean airline Lan SA (LFL).

According to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of six analysts, the country's top carrier likely earned a third-quarter net profit of $21.2 million, down 41.8% from $36.4 million in the same period last year, despite higher sales.

Net profit estimates ranged from $20.0 million to $21.8 million.

"The rise in fuel costs basically explains the fall in profit," said Rodrigo Martin, an analyst at Santander Investment.

Last week, Chief Executive Enrique Cueto said the surge in international oil prices will raise Lan's fuel costs by some $150 million this year.

According to the carrier, fuel costs represented 22% of its total costs in 2004. In the first half of this year, that rose to 25%, or $279 million.

The company said it spent $84 million more for fuel in the first half of 2005 compared with the same period in 2004.

It has begun charging $10-$50 distance-based surcharges on flights to mitigate the blow, but the price of fuel will continue to pose the principal risk to the company's earnings, said analysts. Cueto himself has said the measure won't offset the cost increase.

The airline is one of the largest in the region, with units in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. It also is the largest cargo carrier in Latin America.

On June 8, it launched its Argentine unit, whose operations will begin to contribute to company earnings in the coming quarters, analysts said.

Still, the jump in fuel costs outpaced improved sales, they said.

Lan's sales likely rose 15.4% to $610.0 million from $528.8 million in the third quarter of 2004, boosted largely by the rise in international passenger and cargo traffic, the analysts said. Their estimates for sales ranged between $596.0 million and $620 million.

Healthier regional economies led to rising numbers of passengers and freight, along with the depreciation of the dollar against local currencies that spurred cross-border travel, according to analysts.

Lan's passenger traffic rose 32.3% on the year in the first nine months on the back of a 36.9% increase in international travel, it reported early this month.

Cargo traffic rose 21.0% overall, also outpaced by cross-border traffic, which increased 21.1% on the year in the January-September period.

The company must report its third-quarter and nine-month results by Oct. 30.
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Old October 30th, 2005, 04:34 AM   #47
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Airplane carrying the remains of 145 jet crash victims arrives in Martinique
By HERVE BRIVAL
29 October 2005

FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) - An Air France cargo airplane returned the remains of 145 plane crash victims to Martinique on Saturday, more than two months after their jet crashed in a remote part of Venezuela.

The victims had been on vacation in Panama and were returning home to Martinique on Aug. 16 when their jet crashed. All 152 passengers and the eight-member Colombian crew were killed. The victims' remains had been kept in Venezuela, while authorities tried to confirm their identities.

A crowd of about 100 relatives and dignitaries waited on the tarmac at the Lamentin Airport in the capital, Fort-de-France, as the plane taxied to a stop.

All 145 coffins were unloaded and then grouped and arranged by family and by village. Four sets of remains were still in Venezuela because they have not yet been identified.

The ceremony consisted of a brief moment of silence, there were no speeches, and the victims awaiting identification in Venezuela, were represented by their photos.

After the ceremony, France's Minister of Overseas Departments, Francois Baroin, spoke with family members as they stood near the coffins of their loved ones. He declined comment to the press.

One of the relatives, Christian Cabrera, 45, lost his brother and sister-in-law in the accident.

"I thought I was strong but when I saw the coffins, I burst into tears," he said. "I think of my parents who are waiting for the remains."

As the funeral procession made its way out of the airport, a line of 145 hearses and several cars carrying family members, people on the side of the road bowed their heads in respect as they drove by.

Maurice Antiste, mayor of the village of Francois where many of the victims were from, lost his brother, a sister, his niece and his sister in law in the crash.

"This is not easy for me, but I must be strong for the rest of my family and for the people of Francois who lost so many relatives in this crash," he said.

France's ambassador to Venezuela, Pierre-Jean Vandoorne, called the crash the "most painful" tragedy in the history of Martinique.

Shortly before the plane went down, the pilot had radioed authorities to report that both engines on the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 had failed.

The jet plunged to the ground in a remote area south of Maracaibo, shattering much of the fuselage and making the identification of victims particularly difficult, officials said.

Martinique is a department of France, and French and Venezuelan experts were continuing to investigate what caused the crash. The results of examinations of the plane's flight date and voice recorders could be made public in one month.
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Old November 1st, 2005, 12:16 AM   #48
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Peru Air Traffic Controllers Threaten Partial Strike
31 October 2005

LIMA (AP)--Commercial air traffic controllers threatened Monday to begin a partial strike over equipment maintenance, owed back wages and other grievances, as aviation authorities said air force controllers would step in to prevent any disruption of flights.

Dante Samaniego, secretary general of the Unified Air Traffic Controllers of Peru, told The Associated Press that by law his 170-member union was prevented from staging a total walkout.

But he said if demands were not met by 11 p.m. local time (0400 GMT), controllers would indefinitely reduce their numbers in control towers and flight centers from 36 per eight-hour shift to a mandated minimum of 22 at Peru's 17 airports.

Betty Maldonado, a spokeswoman for Peru's aviation authority, CORPAC, told AP that "all precautions had been taken to ensure that service will not be affected."

A contingency plan was in place for Peruvian Air Force controllers to "reinforce" air traffic controls, she said.

The air traffic controllers said in a statement that revenue from the concession of Lima's Jorge Chavez international airport had not been used to adequately "maintain, upgrade, change and install new equipment" on a national level.

The statement cited a "gradual deterioration of aviation infrastructure and airports."

"I wouldn't say it is dangerous, but there is a need for immediate attention because the problem is mounting and it can become dangerous," Samaniego said.

The controllers also are demanding back pay they say is owed them from 1997 through 2003 and the rehiring of a union employee they claim was unfairly fired more than a year ago.

"We have exhausted all means to resolve these problems," Samaniego said. "We are still waiting for any information, any invitation from (CORPAC) to sit down for talks and find a solution."
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Old November 4th, 2005, 03:29 AM   #49
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Peru Authorities Warn Striking Air-Traffic Controllers
3 November 2005

LIMA (AP)--Aviation authorities on Thursday threatened to fire commercial air traffic controllers three days into a partial strike over equipment maintenance and other grievances, saying the strike was illegal and posed safety threats.

Carlos Albuquerque, president of Peru's aviation authority, Corpac, told reporters that the Labor Ministry had declared the strike illegal and said controllers would be fired if they didn't return to their normal work schedules.

"They are threatening safety," Albuquerque said of the 170-member controller's union, which on Tuesday morning reduced its numbers in control towers and flight centers from 36 per eight-hour shift to 22 in Peru's 17 airports.

Dante Samaniego, Secretary General of the Unified Air Traffic Controllers of Peru, told The Associated Press his union didn't stage a total walkout in order to stay within the boundaries of Peruvian law, which he said stipulates a minimum of 22 controllers nationwide. The controllers have three days to challenge the Labor Ministry's conclusion, he said.

Samaniego said that despite the threatened firings, his union would continue its action "until Corpac decided to put something tangible forward, a working proposal." He warned that the replacement personnel that Corpac had put in the control towers weren't adequately trained.

Corpac officials said ahead of the strike that a contingency plan was in place to use controllers from Peru's Air Force to ensure that commercial flights wouldn't be affected.

"We are putting in place all resources so that security is guaranteed," Albuquerque said. "As a result of the professionalism of the people who are taking care of air traffic in the country we have had no cancelations of national or international flights."

Albuquerque denied the controllers contention that a lack of funding and maintenance was causing a "gradual deterioration of aviation infrastructure and airports."

"You can go to any airport in the country and perhaps there might be a delay, but operations are being properly handled," he said. "Our equipment is functioning at 100%."

The air traffic controllers said in a statement that revenue from the concession of Lima's Jorge Chavez international airport hadn't been used to adequately "maintain, upgrade, change and install new equipment" on a national level.

The controllers also are demanding back pay they say is owed them from 1997 through 2003 and the rehiring of a union employee they claim was unfairly fired more than a year ago.
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Old November 9th, 2005, 12:40 AM   #50
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Peru Air Traffic Controller Strike Continues
8 November 2005

LIMA (Dow Jones)--Commercial air traffic controllers remained on strike Tuesday, a spokeswoman from Peru's Corpac civil aviation authority said.

Air traffic controllers walked off the job Oct. 31 demanding, among other things, that revenue from the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima be used to upgrade and install new equipment and runways. Also among their grievances, they claim they are owed back pay.

Only emergency crews were left in place.

"The strike is still on. They have stepped up their measures. But, Corpac is always open to dialogue and talks continue," said spokeswoman Betty Maldonado.

In a statement late Monday, the Air Traffic Controllers of Peru union said it would hold two marches Tuesday to lobby the government to meet its demands.

Meanwhile, according to Maldonado, all precautions have been taken to ensure that the service isn't affected in airports across the nation.

On Tuesday, Corpac said in a statement that it "guarantees safety" in all of Peru's airports and that to date no flights have been canceled

It stated that, among other things, it has implemented a contingency plan to ensure a round-the-clock service at Lima's airport with licensed air traffic controllers. "Air operations are completely normal," it said.
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Old November 27th, 2005, 08:41 AM   #51
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Govt Orders Partial Halt To Aerolineas Argentinas Strike
25 November 2005

BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)--The Argentine Labor Ministry ordered striking pilots of flagship carrier Aerolineas Argentinas (AR.YY) to return to work Friday, committing both sides to operating a minimum of 50% of domestic passenger flights.

The airline's pilots and mechanics unions launched a surprise strike Thursday afternoon, indefinitely grounding all flights and leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

After a Friday morning meeting at the Labor Ministry with Aerolineas Argentinas, the government imposed a "minimum service" requirement on the pilots and the company. Both sides must now guarantee 50% of scheduled domestic flights and 75% of international flights.

The pilots union says it is seeking a 45% increase in the base salary from its current 1,884 pesos ($634.34) a month, and that Aerolineas Argentinas has offered only a 4% raise.

When asked in a Friday television interview what the company was proposing, Aerolineas Argentinas spokesman Julio Scaramella said that the offer was far from what the unions are requesting. He also said the striking workers were jeopardizing the rest of the company with their actions.

"Eight thousand, five hundred people work here," Scaramella said. "We're not going to put everyone's jobs at risk for the demands of two unions."

The Labor Ministry issued a separate statement Friday saying the two striking unions failed to show up at the morning meeting. This showed "disinterest in attending to and taking up social dialogue with the responsibility and maturity demanded by the circumstances," the national director of labor relations, Jorge Schuster, said in the note.

According to government data, the two striking unions represent 2,000 employees, and there are 950 workers involved in the current conflict.

The Labor Ministry also intervened to order minimum service in early July, when Aerolineas Argentinas pilots went on strike on the eve of one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
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Old November 28th, 2005, 04:32 PM   #52
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Aerolineas Argentinas Fires 168 Striking Pilots, Mechanics
28 November 2005

BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)--Flagship carrier Aerolineas Argentinas (AR.YY) has dismissed 168 pilots and mechanics that defied an Argentine Labor Ministry order to return to work, setting up a key test for the rule of law and balance of power between unions and the government.

The pilots and mechanics unions began a surprise strike Thursday afternoon, grounding Aerolineas Argentinas' passenger flights and stranding thousands of customers. The Labor Ministry ordered a "minimum service" requirement on Friday morning, committing both sides to guarantee 50% of scheduled domestic flights and 75% of international flights.

Aerolineas Argentinas said in a statement issued Sunday that it has sent pink slips to 168 employees that refused to comply with the minimum service order.

"The company will make the same decision for pilots and mechanics who, in the next shifts, persist in an attitude of not showing up at their posts, falling again into non-compliance with government orders," Aerolineas Argentinas said.

The heightened level of conflict in the airline strike hasn't been seen in other recent labor disputes, including those by hospital employees to truckers. The striking Aerolineas workers responded to the dismissals Monday morning by blockading the only highway that leads to the Ezeiza international airport.

It remains to be seen whether the unions will comply with the labor law, which also imposes a fine of 10 million pesos ($3.4 million) for failure to meet the minimum service requirement. In July, when Aerolineas Argentinas pilots also went on strike, the workers obeyed the government's minimum service order and returned to their posts.

Aerolineas Argentinas said it would be in constant contact with the Labor Ministry and senior administration officials on Monday morning, though the company acknowledged that finding a solution would be difficult. Union representatives had failed to attend a Friday meeting convened by the government.

Meanwhile, Aerolineas Argentinas said it is planning to shut down a maintenance center in Bahia Blanca because the absence of mechanics has made normal operations impossible. Austral, which is Aerolineas Argentinas' cargo carrier, hasn't been affected by the strike.

According to government data, 950 workers - nearly half of the membership of the two unions - are involved in the current conflict. The pilots are seeking a 45% increase in the base salary from the current 1,884 pesos a month.
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Old November 28th, 2005, 06:37 PM   #53
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French investigators say West Caribbean crash conclusion is 'hasty'

PARIS, Nov 28 (AFP) - A conclusion by the airline West Caribbean that ice on the wings of one of its planes was responsible for the August 16 crash in Venezuela that killed all 160 people on board was "hasty," French air accident investigators probing the crash said Friday.

The French Bureau of Inquiry and Analyses (BEA) said it "regrets that the operator is drawing hasty conclusions from this accident on the basis of just one of the elements plucked from the initial evaluations of the inquiry."

It added: "None of the elements from the inquiry allow this conclusion to be reached."

The BEA was reacting to a report in the Colombian newspaper El Colombiano on Sunday in which the director of West Caribbean, Jorge Perez, claimed that "the accident was caused by weather conditions, the loss of control due to an excess of ice on the wings."

Perez said that conclusions showed the plane "was not in bad repair as the media has insistently reported."

The newspaper also said that a report by the US National Transportation Safety Board noted that the pilots had discussed the bad weather and possibility of icing before the aircraft went down.

The crash of the twin-engine McDonnell Douglas MD-82 aircraft on a flight from Panama to Martinique killed 152 French passengers from Martinique and eight crew from Colombia.

The BEA said that, at this stage of the investigation, it was impossible to concentrate on one factor to the exclusion of all others.

A final report on the crash is not expected before several months.
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Old November 29th, 2005, 04:39 PM   #54
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TAP Vows To Deposit $40 Mln Loan To Varig - Report
29 November 2005

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Portuguese airline TAP Air Portugal (TAP.YY) will deposit $40 million pledged to the debt-laden Brazilian airline Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandese (VAGV4.BR), or Varig, in the next two weeks, signalling the company's continued commitment to the restructuring of the local firm, TAP's president said late Monday, according to the local business daily Valor Economico

The loan was a rider on a deal, closed earlier this month, to buy control of Varig's profitable cargo and maintenance subsidiaries for $62 million. However, the deposit was put on hold last week after Fundacao Rubem Berta, which owns the majority of the airline's shares, decided to replace three top executives at the request of workers' representatives.

The problems with the controller have been resolved, said TAP President Fernando Pinto.

TAP is still the front runner to partner Varig in restructuring its debts, which are estimated at approximately 7 billion Brazilian reals ($3.18 billion).

Pinto reaffirmed TAP's offer to pump $500 million into the flagship Brazilian airline.

In July, a Brazilian court extended bankruptcy protection to Varig.
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Old November 30th, 2005, 09:56 PM   #55
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Aerolineas Argentinas Offers To Rehire Fired Strikers
30 November 2005

BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)--In an effort to jumpstart stalled negotiations and end a six-day strike, Aerolineas Argentinas (AR.YY) President Antonio Mata said Wednesday that the company will take back workers that had been fired during the labor conflict.

Mata said during a press conference that the company is willing to rehire the pilots and mechanics "in the spirit of being able to recover a dialogue." To be re-incorporated, the workers must comply with a government mandate to return to work while negotiations take place.

The executive put the number of dismissed employees at more than 300. Local media reports have cited a figure of 337 workers. On Monday, the company began sending pink slips to members of the pilots and mechanics unions that refused to return to their posts, flouting a government order to establish minimum service. In response to the dismissals, the workers blockaded the only highway connected to Ezeiza international airport.

The minimum-service requirement entails guaranteeing 50% of domestic flights and 75% of international flights. Mata said Wednesday that the company is meeting the minimum-service rule without compromising the safety of operations, though Aerolineas Argentinas has been forced to rent aircraft from other carriers because it doesn't have enough mechanics to perform maintenance on its own planes.

Mata still had tough words for the striking workers, however, blaming them for "chaos and a savage strike."

The airline "can't subject itself to capricious salary increases that the company can't pay out," Mata said.

Though he declined to quantify the company's wage proposal, Mata insisted it was well above the average salary for the commercial air traffic sector and said the unions are using bad data. The workers say the company has offered just a 5% increase, compared with the 35% they are demanding.

The Labor Ministry issued a resolution late Tuesday that orders the pilots and mechanics unions to obey the government order and return to work. The deadline is 11 p.m. local time. If the conflict persists, authorities could initiate legal action against the workers, Labor Vice-Ministry Noemi Rial said in a Wednesday morning radio interview.

Aerolineas Argentinas accounts for 80% of domestic air travel. Its controlling shareholder is Spain's Marsans group.
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Old December 2nd, 2005, 11:29 PM   #56
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Aerolineas Argentinas Unions Suspend Strike
2 December 2005

BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)--Pilots and mechanics of Aerolineas Argentinas (AR.YY) suspended their eight-day strike on Friday and will return to their jobs, accepting an offer that the company sent the unions early in the morning.

The decision by the mechanics was unanimous, Juan Pappalardo, secretary-general of the union, said in live television interviews after a morning assembly to vote on the proposal.

Minutes later, pilots union spokesman Daniel Biro said his group had adopted the same resolution as their mechanic co-workers.

The employees will go back to work later in the afternoon and negotiations with the company will begin in earnest on Monday, Pappalardo said.

In an afternoon interview with cable news station TodoNoticias, Aerolineas Argentinas spokesman Julio Scaramella said operations should be fully back to normal by Tuesday.

The two sides haven't yet reached a new, long-term salary agreement, as the company's offer was an intermediate step to initiate negotiations and halt the strike.

The unions and company signed the accord Friday afternoon at the Labor Ministry. Aerolineas Argentinas will re-hire all of the 300-plus workers who had received pink slips during the strike, as well as 11 employees whose dismissal had been one of the causes of the labor conflict.

Aerolineas Argentinas will also make a one-off payment of 1,000 pesos ($355.29) for head pilots and 600 pesos for co-pilots. The two top categories of mechanics will receive 450 pesos, while the two lowest tiers will get 400 pesos.

The agreement also calls for a 90-day truce, during which the two sides must negotiate the remaining pending issues. This includes a revised base salary.

Union representatives said the terms are still far from what the workers were seeking. But the unions decided to suspend the strike after feeling that the government had changed its attitude.

"There was a change in negotiators for Aerolineas Argentinas that has totally changed the dialogue," Biro told reporters outside union headquarters. "The Labor Ministry has created the necessary environment for negotiations so that an accord can be reached. The accord will now be realized in the Labor Ministry."

Scaramella said Aerolineas Argentinas President Antonio Mata had opted out of the last round of negotiations, sending another senior executive in his place.

Biro was careful to point out that the strike hasn't been definitively lifted, as workers could walk off the job again in 90 days if the new round of negotiations fails.

The eight-day strike nearly paralyzed operations at Aerolineas Argentinas, which had to rent planes from other carriers to comply with a government order to guarantee minimum service. The company, which has a market share of 80% in domestic commercial air travel, lost about $12 million during the strike, Scaramella said.
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Old December 8th, 2005, 01:47 AM   #57
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Venezuela Tax Agency Shuts Offices Of Local Airline
7 December 2005

CARACAS (Dow Jones)--Venezuela's tax unit, Seniat, shut down the administrative offices of local airline Aeropostal (ARO) for violating tax rules, the agency announced Wednesday.

The 48-hour closure began Tuesday and applies to the company's offices in various states, said Wilmer Silva, a spokesman for Seniat.

Silva said the sanction includes a small fine and noted the closure won't disrupt air service.

Seniat officials ordered the closure after detecting the company had bookkeeping irregularities related to the value added tax, the spokesman added.

Aeropostal officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Aeropostal has 20 office across the country and flies local and foreign flight routes.

Seniat has followed a strict "zero evasion" tax campaign for two years that includes company shutdowns and fines for those who violate tax rules.

The tax authority has managed record collections this year helped by its aggressive collection tactics and a robust economic recovery.
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Old December 8th, 2005, 02:12 AM   #58
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LAN Airlines Introduces New Premium Business Class

MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 7, 2005--Beginning March 2006, LAN Airlines (NYSE:LFL - News) passengers will have the opportunity to enjoy the new "Premium Business" service, a blending of the best of LAN Airlines' current first and business class service.
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With the launching of the new premium business on long-haul flights between North and South America, LAN Airlines will offer a level of service offered by few airlines in the world. The new concept is based on what long-haul business passengers value most on long-haul flights: the ability to rest.

Over the next two years, all Boeing 767-300 aircraft in the fleet will incorporate the new premium business seats, featuring a full-flat 180-degree recline, which is only available from five companies in the world, offering greater comfort for sleeping in a completely full-flat horizontal position. Down comforters and soft pillows will create a true bed experience, and dividing panels between seats will offer maximum privacy during the flight.

In addition, the distance between seats will be increased to 74 inches, a considerable 32 percent increase in space for passengers compared to LAN Airlines' current business class and a significant increase to that offered by other airlines in the world, providing maximum comfort for resting. The new service, specially designed to increase the rest time available on overnight flights, offers peace and tranquility in the cabin.

This initiative represents an investment in service of more than US$100 million.

"At a time when the airline industry is facing difficult times as a result of the high price of fuel, LAN continues to believe in the future and reaffirms its commitment to the service and excellence that the company offers its clients worldwide," says Ignacio Cueto, Chief Executive Officer of LAN Airlines' passenger division. "This new LAN project revolutionizes the concept of air travel and allows us to offer a product that only a select group of airlines in the world offer their passengers."

The inflight entertainment will also reach a superior level with larger 15.4-inch individual video monitors that offer better resolution and an updated audio-visual content with an audio and video on demand system that allows passengers to choose from eight films and 20 short programs with the ability to fast-forward, rewind or pause selected films.

In addition, there will be 14 interactive video games and a true musical library with 100 CDs to choose from and enjoy with quality digital sound from the latest generation in advanced noise-canceling headsets that notably reduce the external noises of the cabin, producing a pleasant sensation of privacy.

The aircraft interior will also be modified, offering a larger space and improved lighting. Other elements of the new service, including such items as dishes, glasses and serving trays among others, have been redesigned with the new modern and elegant style consistent with the new premium business service.

This transformation of the Boeing 767-300 fleet also includes improvements in economy class with the objective of making a more pleasant travel experience. It includes larger individual video monitors with enhanced resolution in each seatback in which passengers will be able to directly choose from various audio and video on demand programming options using an easy touch screen menu.

In addition, the economy class improvements include increased space for personal carry-on items at each seat, as well as new dishes, carpeting and other items such as pillows and blankets. "We want to take care of our passengers with a smile and attentiveness in a warm and comfortable atmosphere, always with the same level of excellence that distinguishes us," adds Ignacio Cueto.

Cabin Specifications

I. New Premium Business

Seats:

Sleeper seat with 180-degree full-flat recline
Distance between seats increased to 74 inches
Dividing panels between seats for maximum privacy
Four pre-programmed seating positions
Arm rests that lower when changing seat position to horizontal bed, giving a five-inch greater width
Down comforters and soft pillows
New spaces for personal carry-on items
Entertainment:

Larger individual video monitors - 15.4 inches - with high resolution, offering audio and video on demand
Updated content with eight movies, 20 short programs, 14 video games and 100 music CDs
Noise canceling headsets that reduce the external noises of the cabin, producing a pleasant private experience.
Retractable remote control
Service:

Sequence of service redesigned especially to provide maximum hours of sleep on overnight flights: silence and tranquility in the cabin
Glass wear: new wine glasses to enjoy the best wines of the region
New champagne glasses
Dishes: a new classic-style design with contemporary influences
New fabrics inspired by natural lines that are simple and elegant
II. Innovations in Economy Class

Entertainment:

Individual video monitors in each seatback featuring a larger size of 8.9 inches and optimal resolution with touch-screen programming providing an easy and comfortable way to select options, offering audio and video on demand
A retractable remote control for operating the audio and video system
Updated entertainment content, including a selection of eight movies, 20 short programs, 14 video games and 100 music CDs
Seats:

Increased recline and cushion that slides forward one inch for greater comfort
Increased space for carry-on items, as well as cup holders
Adjustable headrests offering greater comfort
New fabrics, carpeting and redesigned pillows and blankets
The LAN service alliance participating airlines, LAN Airlines (NYSE:LFL - News), LAN Peru, LAN Argentina and LAN Ecuador, offer a united spirit of reliability and charm that provides passengers the highest level of service and safety with the complete travel experience throughout the skies of the Americas.

The LAN service alliance's vast route network reaches a large number of destinations throughout the world, including the Americas, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. The alliance offers non-stop and direct flights from North America to Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela with service from 29 North American cities, including daily flights from its Miami, New York and Los Angeles gateways. Passengers traveling with any of the LAN service alliance participating airlines may accumulate frequent flier kilometers/miles in LANPASS or American Airlines' AAdvantage. Additionally, passengers traveling with LAN Airlines or LAN Peru may also accumulate frequent flier miles in any of the oneworld(TM) member frequent flier programs.
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Old December 14th, 2005, 04:05 AM   #59
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Good news for Varig. May this airline get out of this financial trouble as soon as possible.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 02:44 AM   #60
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LatAm Airlines To Fly More People In 06; Challenges Remain
14 December 2005

MIAMI (Dow Jones)--Latin American and Caribbean airlines will fly 5.5% more passengers in 2006 than in 2005, the president of the council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, said Wednesday.

Assad Kotaite of ICAO forecast a similar increase in 2007. The region transported nearly 100 million passengers in 2004, and this year passenger flow is likely to grow 6.2%, he added.

"This compares very favorably to the annual average growth of 3.4% between 1994 and 2004," said Kotaite, who was speaking at the Latin American Airline Association, or Aital after its name in Spanish, conference in Miami.

But growth is not without its pitfalls, Kotaite and other speakers cautioned.

"There will be growth, however we are concerned whether that will be a profitless growth," said Aital Executive Director Alex de Guten.

The industry in the region is still "very fragmented," and the economies of scale are just not there. It is still harder for many Latin American carriers to access the capital markets to fund their needs, and fuel "is an area of major concern," de Guten added.

"Fuel costs, as you know, have gotten out of hand," he said.

The industry also faces problems with excessive taxation by the region's governments, de Guten said.

Latin American governments still see the airline sector as a luxury industry, and not an important partner in the development of commerce and tourism, he said.

Juan Emilio Posada, Aital's president, said inter-regional traffic flows in Latin America should grow as well, perhaps by 25% in the next year. Latin America, largely because of improvements in the economies of the countries in the region, is the higher growth sector in the world according to International Air Transport Association numbers, Posada said.

Latin America, however, is still home to some of the most expensive airports to fly from or to, Posada said. Airport operators have increased fuel surcharges and imposed higher fees across the board, he said.
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