A Brief History Of Boliviana De Aviacion

Currently, Boliviana de Aviación is Bolivia’s flag carrier, following Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano’s disappearance in 2007. Boliviana de Aviación, also known as BoA, had a 79% market share in its country market back in 2019. But, how did this airline appear? Let’s look at its history.

Boliviana de Aviación
Boliviana de Aviación is Bolivia’s state carrier, founded in 2007. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Lloyd Aéreo demise led to Boliviana’s birth

For 82 years, Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano, or LAB, was the main airline in Bolivia. It also was one of Latin America’s oldest airlines, appearing after Avianca in Colombia and Mexicana in Mexico.

This airline connected Bolivia with much of South America, and its brand was known throughout the continent. Nevertheless, by the early 2000s, Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano faced an unprecedented crisis.

By 2006, the airline had a debt of US$140 million, plus wages, and the Bolivian Government declined to rescue it.

The following year, Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano unofficially ceased operations leaving the country without its main airline. Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president at that time, came with the idea of forging a new airline.

AeroSur B747
When Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano disappeared, AeroSur became the largest carrier in Bolivia. It had a large fleet, including this iconic SuperBull Boeing 747-400. Photo: Javier Pedreira via Flickr.

Boliviana’s origins

In October 2007, Evo Morales signed a decree establishing the creation of Boliviana de Aviación. This new carrier would have its hub in the city of Cochabamba. Initially, the Bolivian State gave its new carrier an investment of US$15 million, according to a statement from the Government.

Slowly, the airline took shape by receiving its first aircraft, a Boeing 737-300, in December 2008. It wasn’t until February 2009 that Boliviana de Aviación started flying. Its first routes connected the three most important cities: Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, and Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.

At that time, the Bolivian air market had three key players: Boliviana de Aviación, Amaszonas (founded in 1999), and AeroSur. AeroSur was the largest player by 2010; it had a large fleet, including a Boeing 747-400, aptly called Súper Torísimo (SuperBull, in English).

AeroSur served international destinations like Washington DC. It also planned to fly to many more cities like Mexico, Panama, Caracas, and even Milan, Munich, and Barcelona. Despite the plans, AeroSur folded in 2012, leaving the market wide open for BoA.

Boliviana’s first international flight was Cochabamba-Buenos Aires in May 2010. Later that same year, it launched its flights to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

By 2012, Boliviana had a 48% market share in the country, while AeroSur (nearing its demise) had a 42% share.

Boliviana de Aviación
Boliviana de Aviación has 23 aircraft, including four Boeing 767 like the one seen in this aerial picture. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

How is Boliviana doing now?

By 2019, Boliviana de Aviación had already operated over 237,000 flights throughout its network, according to the Government. Plus, it is one of the safest airlines out there, the Government says, with only 36 incidents in its history, and zero deaths.

The airline currently has 23 aircraft, including 17 Boeing 737, four Boeing 767, and two CRJ-100, according to Planespotters.net.

In its first ten years of history, BoA increased its net worth from US$15 million to US$86 million. Plus, it has had an accumulated revenue of more than US$42 million.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic and the political instability in the country led BoA to a major crisis. In 2020, the airline lost US$132 million.

Currently, Boliviana serves nine domestic destinations and six international destinations in six countries, according to Flight Connections. In Bolivia it flies to Cobija, Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Sucre, Tarija, Trinidad, and Yacuíba.

Finally, BoA flies to Buenos Aires and Salta in Argentina; Sao Paulo in Brazil; Iquitos in Peru; Madrid in Spain; and Miami in the United States.

Have you ever traveled with Boliviana de Aviación? How was it? Let us know in the comments.