Bolivia plans new flag carrier
Bolivia's decision to launch a state-owned airline could cut short the re-launch plans of grounded LAB. US firm Swiss Transatlantic has agreed to buy 50.1% of LAB from its unions and to invest $80 million in the airline over time. LAB is banking on an initial $6 million payment from Swiss Transatlantic to recover five grounded narrowbodies and resume flights. But the Bolivian government justifies launching its own airline, called Aerolineas Sudamericanas, because domestic air service has suffered with LAB grounded and only AeroSur flying. The new state airline, set to start as early as mid-September, appears to be modelled after Venezuela's Conviasa. The Chavez government is financing part of its $15 million start-up cost.

Copa's network grows
Panama's Copa has accelerated its expansion within Central America while adding new routes to the USA and Argentina. Copa launched in July daily flights to Washington Dulles and twice-weekly flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. It began four weekly flights to Cordoba in Argentina in August and plans to start four weekly flights to Trinidad & Tobago in December. Copa has also signed a codeshare pact with Aeromexico that gives it access to Aeromexico's flights to 17 Mexican cities.

Piñera may leave LAN
Sebastián Piñera, one of LAN's principal owners, has resigned from LAN's board and may sell his shares after a dispute with the agency that polices Chile's stock market. The Supervisor of Values and Insurance cited Piñera for trading violations involving LAN shares and fined him $700,000. The Piñera and Cueto families have held major stakes in LAN for years.

Aerolineas and Austral split
Grupo Marsans, which owns most of Aerolineas Argentinas and its subsidiary Austral, plans to separate the two airlines. The Spanish group aims to sell part of Aerolineas, keep all of Austral and separate their functions more clearly. Plans call for Austral to continue serving Argentina's domestic market while Aerolineas co-ordinates more closely with Air Comet, which Marsans also owns.

Source: Airline Business