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TBT (Throwback Thursday) in Aviation History: A Look Back at AeroSur
In 1992, the aviation industry in Bolivia went through a period of deregulation. The days of domination of the state-owned Lloyd Aereo Boliviano were gone, and new carriers would be allowed to enter the market. Thankfully the terrain of Bolivia is well suited for the aviation industry, with large patches of rain forests and mountains dominating the land. Following deregulation, AeroSur was established in April of 1992 to help fill the demand from the private sector.
With a fleet of BAe 146s and Fairchild Metroliners, the airline commenced operations in August of the same year, serving regional routes to Bolivia and it’s neighboring countries. Viru Viru International Airport in Bolivia’s capital Santa Cruz de la Seirra served as AeroSur’s main hub. The airline found success and expanded throughout the 1990’s, entering the jet-age with the Boeing 727, while also growing their network of destinations. In 1998 the airline added the Russian made Yak-40 to the fleet, becoming one of two airlines in South America and one of four airlines in all of the Americas to operate the aircraft.
Soon the older aircraft were replaced with newer jets. The Boeing 737-200 was added to the fleet in 2003 and became a workhorse for the airline both regionally and domestically. The mid-2000’s saw tremendous growth for the airline. Larger aircraft were added to the fleet, such as the Boeing 757, 767, and 747. Unlike the rest of their fleet, the Boeing 767 and 747 aircraft were painted in unique liveries featuring cartoon bulls and sharks. In 2007, state-owned Lloyd Aereo Boliviano went bankrupt and shut down, making AeroSur the largest airline in Bolivia and the only airline with transcontinental routes.
In 2009, the airline began replacing the 727 fleet with Boeing 737 classics, and looked to start a Peruvian subsidiary, however that project was suspended indefinitely. At the end of March 2012, the airline saw the first sign of trouble when the it suspended operations due to unpaid taxes. However, operations resumed eight days later, excluding the route to Madrid which was suspended due to the Boeing 747 being returned to the lessor.
The resumed operations were short lived and on May 17, 2012 the airline suspended operations again. A plan was put into motion to rescue the airline with a US investor planning to invest $15 million dollars, but the carrier’s air operator’s certificate was revoked on July 12, 2012. The demise of AeroSur created an opportunity for state-owned Boliviana de Aviacion to grow and fill the gap left from the demised airline.
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