Uruguay's BQB shelves Airbus plans

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Uruguay's BQB Lineas Aereas appears to have backtracked on its plan to operate Airbus jets, returning its sole Airbus A319 and axing several routes.

A source at Uruguay's Civil Aviation Authority says that the A319 leased in May had operated for only about two months on charter and scheduled flights to Brazil during the World Cup.

BQB did not respond to requests for comment, but its website shows that the two cities it was operating to with the A319 - Sao Paulo and Curitiba - are no longer part of its network. Its ATR 72-operated flights to Buenos Aires Aeroparque, Asuncion, Florianopolis (Brazil) and others are still in service.

The Uruguayan daily El Pais reports that BQB had laid off 55 employees as part of a strategic restructuring, caused reportedly by Argentina's refusal to award BQB route authorities to serve destinations in the country's interior, such as Cordoba.

The failure of former Uruguayan flag carrier Pluna has in large part been attributed to Argentina's protectionism that prevented it from establishing a regional hub operation with the necessary critical mass in Montevideo.

BQB now seems to prefer a more conservative approach by focusing its activities on Uruguay's home market, rather than relying on the substantial yet unpredictable Argentinean market potential.