The Uruguayan government has unexpectedly delayed the tender process to sell seven Bombardier CRJ900s, previously operated by bankrupt Pluna but owned by the state, until 1 October.
The tender, which was planned for 12 September, was called off just moments before its start.
A brief joint statement from the Ministries of Transport, Economy and Finance said the decision due to a need to "promote a higher level of participation in order to defend the interests of the beneficiaries [of the tender process, i.e. the state]".
Before the tender, a government source said that seven interested parties had "acquired the tender condition documentation" but only Venezuela's state airline Conviasa had confirmed its intentions to participate.
Uruguay says it is selling the aircraft for at least $136 million, which corresponds with the financial guarantee given to Pluna's banks, but a source at the transport ministry says that the aircraft could be sold for as little as $100 million.
Pluna stopped operating in early July and although the government had hoped to incentivise the sale of the aircraft by bundling Pluna's international route authorities with the deal, the ministry source says that the priority now is to sell the aircraft and then redevelop the international route network to and from Montevideo through open skies agreements.