Pluna plans Chilean expansion

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Uruguay's Pluna has confirmed plans to launch domestic flights in Chile during the first half of 2012 as it needs to develop new markets for its growing fleet of Bombardier CRJ900 jets.

Pluna has confirmed plans to start daily flights from Santiago to Calama, with an intermediate stop in Antofagasta, in the North and to Concepcion in the South of the country.

This is Pluna's second attempt to enter Chile's domestic market after it operated briefly flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas in 2008.

The Montevideo based airline operates a fleet of 11 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft and plans to incorporate two additional aircraft shortly, giving it a fleet that exceeds the relatively limited traffic potential of Montevideo.

While Pluna is trying to position Montevideo as the ideal connecting point between Argentina and its destinations in Brazil and Paraguay, Argentina's protectionist aviation policy is severely limiting this potential as its authorities have denied repeatedly traffic rights on routes on which Pluna could create direct or indirect competition with state owned Aerolineas Argentinas.

In contrast, Chile has one of the most liberal aviation policies in the world, allowing airlines from third countries to operate domestic flights.