Charter carrier Northeast Bolivian Airlines (NEBA) is hoping an association with a large Bolivian airline to establish a regional airline will speed its expansion, as it prepares for its future ambitions by tapping further the region's promising charter segment, writes Jackson Flores.

Cochabamba-based NEBA has taken delivery of a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 50 leased from Tristar Capital, with two further L-1011s expected this year. NEBA's chief executive, José Raúl Bolívar, says the airline is also hoping to set up a regional carrier to provide scheduled services within Bolivia using three leased Fairchild Dornier 328s. Although Bolivár has not disclosed a launch date for the operation, he has indicated that NEBA is pondering the acquisition of two Boeing 727-100C freighters for South American cargo operations.

NEBA's rapid expansion was enabled when Carson City, Nevada-based lessor Tristar Capital took a 35% stake in the airline. Cochabamba's central location in the continent, and Bolivia's favourable cost structure, attracted the US investment. Bolivia also stands apart from some of its neighbours in boasting Category 1 classification under the US Federal Aviation Administration's International Aviation Safety Assessment programme, as well as a pool of experienced aviation personnel.

The first TriStar, configured with 300 seats, will enter service next month following Bolivian certification. The aircraft will be operated in association with Chilean Pacific Feeder Services on services to London, Madrid and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as well as destinations within South America.

Source: Flight International