- CAPA Analysis
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- International Airlines serving this country (excluding codeshares)
The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is located in southeastern South America. Its major international airports are Carrasco International Airport, Capitán de Corbeta Carlos A Curbelo International Airport, Pres Gral Óscar D Gestido International Airport and Nueva Hespérides International Airport. PLUNA is the flag carrier of Uruguay, operating scheduled services within South America, as well as cargo and charter services, with its main hub being Carrasco International Airport. International airlines serving the country include Copa, Aerolineas Argentinas, Lufthansa, LAN Airlines and GOL. The Uruguay Civil Aviation Authority is the regulatory body responsible for the air transport sector in the country.
Airports in Uruguay
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BQB Líneas Aéreas has accelerated expansion, positioning it as Uruguay’s new flag carrier 18 months after the demise of Pluna.
BQB began pursuing expansion in late 2013 with four new routes, its first jet (a wet-leased A320) and a fourth ATR 72 turboprop. The carrier is planning further expansion in 2014, including the acquisition of a fifth ATR 72 and up to three A319s while the wet-leased A320 will be returned.
BQB should be large enough by the end of 2014 to render the proposed re-launch of Pluna or the establishment of another new Uruguayan carrier unnecessary. Uruguay is a small market and BQB is already about one third the size of Pluna, which had operated a fleet of 13 CRJ900s.
The demise of Pluna has left a large void in the Uruguayan market that will be partially filled through expansion by carriers from neighbouring Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay as well as by tiny Uruguayan regional carrier BQB Air. The Uruguayan Government has opted against bailing out Pluna, which ceased operations on 05-Jul-2012, and is instead now trying to find another carrier (either new or existing) to take over its routes and, potentially, its employees and fleet.
But the end result will almost certainly be the the lack of a network carrier for Uruguay and the sale of Pluna’s 13 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets to overseas buyers. While some of Pluna routes could be taken over by other carriers, there will almost certainly be a steep reduction in traffic at Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport as the Uruguayan market is too small to support more than a handful of point-to-point routes.
Uruguay’s two main airports have been recording rapid growth the last several months driven by continued expansion of flag carrier Pluna and the launch of local start-up BQB Air. Based on Feb-2011 data from Uruguay’s civil aviation authority DINACIA, arriving traffic at Montevideo Airport was up 33% to 104,287 passengers while arriving traffic at Punta del Este was up 42% to 18,585 passengers.
A discussion about Brazilian – or even South American aviation – is incomplete without Gol, with its low-fare strategy, and TAM, with a legacy strategy complete with regional airline feeder in Pantanal and membership in Star Alliance. TAM’s measured and targeted growth contrasts, however, with Gol’s dramatic rise. Ironically, Gol was built on the remains of Varig, whose demise paved the way for the successful entrance of TAM.
Since the demise of Varig, the once-famous airline always closely associated with the magic of Brazil, the country's airline industry has thrived, as economic growth and stable government created favourable conditions. The second of a three part CAPA report on the country's airlines.