Bolivia's Aerosur plans to acquire an additional Boeing 767-200 and 737-300 this year as the carrier continues its widebody fleet expansion and narrowbody fleet renewal programmes.

Aerosur currently operates one 767-200ER, one Boeing 747-400, one 737-400, three 737-300s, two 737-200s and two 727-200s, according to VP commercial Miguel Angel Roca

"For this year we have one 737-300 in mind and one 767-200," Roca tells ATI.

He adds Santa Cruz-based Aerosur has identified a specific 737-300 and 767-200. Negotiations are now in the final stages and the aircraft are expected to be placed into service in August.

Aerosur last year took its first 767-200, which it is using primarily on its Miami service. Roca says the second 767 will likely be used to launch a weekly service to Barcelona.

He adds the second 767 may also be potentially used to up-gauge Aerosur's new Santa Cruz-Dulles service and some frequencies to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.

Both Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo are served daily but currently 11 of the combined 14 frequencies are served with 737s and the remaining three with the 767. Aerosur is also planning to use 737s for its once weekly Dulles service, which will be launched later this month with a stop in Panama.

Aerosur also used 737s and had a Panama fuel stop on its Santa Cruz-Miami service until it received its first 767-200 last year. Aerosur now serves Miami three times per week with a fourth weekly flight during peak periods.

ATI reported last year that Aerosur was also looking at adding a 777 to support its potential service to Barcelona. But Roca says the carrier has since decided a second 767 is more suitable.

"A 767 is a better aircraft for the fleet. We have routes we can use the plane on," he explains.

The carrier was also looking last year at adding a freighter but has decided the 767 and 747 passenger aircraft give it adequate belly space. Aerosur's 747-400 is now used on the Santa Cruz-Madrid route, which is operated three times per week with a fourth frequency during peak periods.

On the narrowbody side, Aerosur has been acquiring over the last two years 737-300s and -400s to replace its ageing 737-200s and 727s. Roca says the carrier plans to continue gradually renewing its 737-200 and 727 fleet with one more 737-300 slated to be delivered this year. But he adds that Aerosur has no plans yet to completely phase out its 737-200s and 727s.

The 737-200s and 727s are still used for both domestic and some international scheduled flights as well as charters. In addition to Madrid, Miami, Washington, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, Aerosur's international network now includes three flights per week to Asuncion in Paraguay, Cuzco in Peru and Salta in Argentina.

Privately-owned Aerosur in recent years has been focusing on expanding its international network as competition domestically has intensified due to the launch and expansion of new government-owned carrier Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA). Roca says profitability on domestic routes has suffered "but we are still making the same flights".

He claims Aerosur currently has about a 60% share of the domestic Bolivian market. Last year Aerosur carried 1.2 million passengers across both its domestic and international markets. Roca says Aerosur's traffic was up slightly in 2010 compared to 2009 and is expected to grow by another 10% in 2011.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news