Central America's TACA Group looks set to branch into Venezuela, having initiated the process of obtaining an air operator's certificate (AOC) in the country. The identity of the group's expected local partner is not known.

Although the airline declines to confirm the move, a source within the Venezuelan civil aviation administration says that TACA Group - which comprises six Latin American carriers - has requested that the procedure to secure the AOC be started.

Nelson Ramiz, the head of Venezuela's largest airline, Aeropostal, says that he is aware of the TACA move and has instructed lawyers to evaluate the legal status of a local airline being managed by a foreign carrier.

"The market in Venezuela is in bad shape," he says. "The advent of a foreign carrier to the domestic market can be a danger to the viability of many thinner routes. We will obviously object formally against the TACA project."

TACA Group is an an alliance of six independent carriers in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, which have some common ownership. The group's chief executive Charles Donley has revealed that it had requested approval from the US Department of Transportation to use a single designator code - TA - and a single trade-name for all the airlines in an effort to strengthen its brand image and allow it to compete more effectively with larger carriers.

"The TACA carriers believe that what they are seeking is fully consistent with the letter and spirit of the open skies agreements that their homelands have entered with the USA," says Donley. "An easily identifiable mark will notify consumers about the identity of the operating carrier."



Source: Flight International