The Venezuelan government has cleared funds for state-owned Conviasa's fleet expansion plans, earmarking $27 million for the acquisition of four ATR 42 and three ATR 72 regional turboprops. Expecting to receive the first pair by the end of 2006, Conviasa aims to increase flights on short-haul routes and launch services to new domestic destinations. Conviasa now operates two ATR 42-400s and a de Havilland Canada Dash 7.

Being groomed to fill the vacuum left after Venezuelan flag carrier Viasa's demise, Conviasa this year added three more Boeing 737-200/300s to its jet fleet for use on domestic and international services. With an eye on launching a Caracas-Madrid service this year - currently offered via a codeshare with Air Europa - the airline took delivery of an A340-200 in May on lease from Airbus. However, the airline has reportedly opted to return the aircraft and is seeking alternatives including the possible purchase of four Ilyushin Il-96-300 widebodies from Russian export agency Rosboronexport.

Source: Flight International