Uruguay's Alas-U looks to lease 737s

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Alas Uruguay, the start-up airline project owned by former ex-Pluna employees, has dropped plans to use the former Pluna Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft now owned by the Uruguayan government, and will instead launch next year with three leased Boeing 737-300s from its Montevideo base.

This change is a result of the local government's decision to not subsidise nor guarantee the launch of the employee-owned airline, announced earlier this month.

A source at the airline claims the government has lost "a win-win opportunity" by withdrawing from its initial plan to financially support Alas Uruguay, or Alas-U.

The source adds that state owned development fund Fondes will not guarantee any financial transactions of Alas-U, but has agreed to provide the airline with a loan of $15 million.

"The details have yet to be finalised," the source says, adding that Alas-U's employees will guarantee part of the loan with their personal assets.

He says that the move to lease 737s will be "much cheaper" than acquiring three of the government-owned CRJ900s. "We are looking for aircraft right now and in the process [of] amending the certification documents for Dinacia (Uruguay's civil aviation authority)," he says, adding that he now expects the airline to launch in June 2014.