Bolivia's struggling carrier Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB) is to operate a Boeing 727-200 on behalf of the country's largest airline, Aerosur, after signing a wet-lease contract.

LAB, one of Latin America's oldest airlines and formerly the state's flag-carrier, is still battling for survival after its bankruptcy two years ago. It has failed to recover its licence to operate scheduled commercial flights and is only performing occasional charter flights to maintain its air operator's certificate.

Aerosur, which enjoyed a domestic monopoly after LAB's demise, has recently come under strong pressure with the emergence of new state-owned airline Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA), which is operating domestic flights and offering "social fares".

LAB and Aerosur do not want to present the wet-lease agreement as a first step to a merger, although a LAB management source says that Aerosur can "use more efficiently our aircraft" while LAB can provide Aerosur with "high reputation maintenance services".

He adds: "I think Aerosur might be afraid of eventual LAB debts, while LAB also wants BoA to be a customer of its maintenance center in Cochabamba, so I think neither carrier is really pushing for a merger."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news