Bolivia imposes conditions on Aerosur's relaunch

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The Bolivian government has imposed conditions on grounded Santa Cruz-based airline Aerosur to relaunch flights by 11 July, although this deadline can be extended by up to 60 days.

The airline must present a viable financial plan in order to restart operations. Aerosur's shareholders signed an agreement with US investor William Petty in late May for Petty to invest $15 million in the airline in exchange for a controlling share in the carrier.

The Bolivian Telecommunications and Transport Regulatory agency (ATT) will need to analyse this agreement from a legal perspective, says the agency's head Walter Salinas, adding that a $15 million investment may fall short of Aerosur's needs.

Salinas says that Aerosur might require more than $20 million to restart operations. He acknowledges that Aerosur filed a plan to resume operations to the authorities on 12 June. According to Bolivian regulations, an airline must restart flights within 30 days after a plan is filed, but this can be extended to 90 days, says Salinas. As a result, Aerosur must restart operations by early September latest or risk losing its certification.

Aerosur was grounded after the Bolivian government decided to impound all income from its ticket sales, leaving the airline without any positive cash flow in March. The airline's debt has amounted to Bs3.5 billion ($495 million) since 2004, according to the Bolivian Ministry of Public Works,

However, this figure is disputed by an Aerosur source, who says the "real [debt] figure is significantly lower".