Uruguay approves $15m for Alas-U

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Uruguay's Alas-U, the successor to Pluna, has been awarded a $15 million credit line backed by Uruguayan state agencies.

The airline was first proposed by ex-employees of Uruguay's former flag carrier only days after its bankruptcy and grounding in July 2012 but the start-up has yet to take off.

A succession of political and financial scandals around the defunct airline, unclear labour liabilities, unsuccessful attempts to sell its state-financed Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets and pressure from Buquebus-owned competitor BQB Lineas Aereas have so far prevented the government from committing any state support to the project.

But now Alas-U, which has its offices at former Pluna premises at Montevideo's Carrasco International airport, confirms that the Fondes development fund has approved a $15 million credit line to get the employee-owned airline off the ground.

Fondes is a government-backed fund created by the current left-winged Mujica administration to promote entrepreneurial projects of unemployed workers.

An Alas-U source says that his team is updating the launch plan, indicating that he hopes to obtain the air operator's certificate from the local Civil Aviation Authority by September and start operations in November with four leased Boeing 737-300s.

Although former Pluna employees will be hired with priority, the source points out that the airline is "not a legal Pluna successor" and will start as a clean-sheet company with no historic liabilities.