Uruguay’s BQB seals alliance with Aerolineas Argentinas

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The Uruguayan airline BQB Lineas Aereas and Argentinas national flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a bilateral alliance.

The agreement, which was signed on Friday by BQB president and owner, Juan Carlos Lopez Mena, and the president of Aerolineas Argentinas, Mariano Recalde, will include mutual code sharing, as well as timetable coordination, frequent flyer program recognition and, eventually, the coordinated opening of new routes between both countries.

Juan Patricio Lopez, chief executive of BQB and son of Juan Carlos Lopez, says that the agreement will "improve the connectivity between Argentina and Uruguay".

BQB positions itself with this agreement as the de facto successor of bankrupt Pluna as Uruguay's principal airline. Pluna's failure has been attributed principally to Argentina's resistance to award the Uruguayan carrier more traffic rights into Argentina's interior, which would have allowed the airline to operate a balanced, Montevideo-based, hub operation between multiple destinations in Argentina and in Brazil. BQB, which operates a fleet of ATR 72-500 turboprops, does not seem to generate the same concerns at Aerolineas about "stealing" traffic from Argentina's interior, given the ATR's limited range.

BQB has been confirmed to be one of the potential bidders for Pluna's assets, basically seven Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft and traffic rights, at the tender scheduled for 12 September. However, the opening price of $136 million has been considered as "unrealistic" by BQB and other potential bidders.

Several Uruguayan politicians, from both the left winged government coalition and from the opposition party have suggested to not resurrect Pluna in any way and instead declare liberal open skies policies to attract flights and operators from other countries.