Spain’s Marsans group, which owns Aerolineas Argentinas, and Brazil’s Synergy Aerospace are each branching out from their bases to form or acquire affiliate airlines in other parts of Latin America. Both are in the early stages of linking carriers into a broader network.

AVIANCAThe Marsans group started up a year ago by forming Aerolineas del Sur in Chile. Since then, it has declared the formation of Aerolineas del Peru, but has delayed its launch until March. The group has also formed an affiliate in the Dominican Republic, with details to be announced. Aerolineas del Sur has flown within Chile for almost a year, and is awaiting approval from Argentina to start service to Buenos Aires, which would be its first cross-border route.

Starting with regional carrier Ocean­Air in Brazil, Synergy has acquired 100% of Colombia’s Avianca and Ecuador’s Vipsa, and is about to launch Wayra Peru, which has local partners to satisfy Peru’s foreign ownership cap.

Beyond its highly visible purchase of Avianca, Synergy’s aims are more modest. It is focusing on shorter routes with a fleet of 30 Fokker 100s acquired from American Airlines. It placed 10 of these with Avianca for local routes and is dividing the rest among OceanAir, Vipsa and Wayra Peru.

OceanAir is Synergy’s fastest-growing unit. With 10 Fokker 100s added during 2006, it will quadruple capacity and add routes from Brazil to Peru, Ecuador and Paraguay. Ecuador’s Vipsa is upgrading from air taxi to scheduled carrier status and plans to link Quito and Guayaquil with Bogota and Lima.

Because of its fleet, experience and routes, Avianca is Synergy’s long-haul carrier. It has also added flights to Quito and Lima as logical links with its Synergy affiliates. In November, Synergy bought the remaining 25% of Avianca shares from the Colombian coffee federation for $23 million.

Synergy is owned by Brazilian entrepreneur German Efromovich, so the purchase brought Avianca under full Brazilian ownership. This fact was passed over in silence at a Bogota ceremony when Colombia’s President Uribe bestowed citizenship on Efromovich. ■


Source: Airline Business