Uruguay's BQB Lineas Aereas has confirmed it will begin operating the only flights between Madrid and Montevideo from April 2013 with Boeing 767s, following Iberia's departure from the Uruguayan market.
A spokesman for Buquebus, the Argentinean-Uruguayan travel group which owns BQB, says that "the withdrawal of Iberia from the route has created the conditions to launch BQB's first long-haul route."
"We will start operating six weekly frequencies in April 2013, for which we are negotiating the lease of two Boeing 767-300ER aircraft," he says. The flights will be operated on a codeshare basis with Iberia.
Iberia, which is currently flying six times weekly between Madrid and Montevideo with Airbus A340-300s, has identified Montevideo as one of the loss-making Latin American destinations to be abandoned as part of its major network overhaul in 2013. In addition to Montevideo, it will also axe flights to Havana (Cuba), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and San Juan (Puerto Rico), but will increase frequencies to major business destinations in Chile, Brazil and Mexico.
BQB, which was created in 2010 as a competitor to now bankrupt Pluna, is operating two ATR 72-500 aircraft, with a third one scheduled to arrive within weeks. It also plans to add its first Airbus A320 jet in February 2013, and will operate it on charter flights.
BQB has been Uruguay's designated carrier under the Uruguay-Spain bilateral air services agreement since 2010, when the airline expressed its interest in operating on the route.