The state-owned Boliviana de Aviación airline is set to receive a cash injection of $17.5 million from the Bolivian government, according to FlightGlobal. The payment will assist the carrier with the replacement of Boeing 767-300 aircraft with Airbus A330s, reshaping its long-haul fleet.
Commenting on the issue, the chief commercial officer of Boliviana de Aviación, Hugo Estrada, indicated that the Bolivian government had acted in order to enable the carrier to “speed up our fleet renewal”.
Estrada claimed that Boliviana de Aviación has performed well financially for a sustained period of time, noting that the carrier “has been profitable for the last nine years”. With this in mind, and with the spending of government always likely to be placed under scrutiny, Estrada also emphasized that “this money is not for compensating losses, which do not exist, but to fund our fleet renewal and internal restructuring”.
The replacement of the Boeing 767-300 airliners will apparently occur in the immediate future, with Boliviana de Aviación keen to upgrade its fleet, and retire the aging aircraft. The Airbus A330 has been the choice of the company for its long-haul flights, and Estrada assured potential passengers that the plan of the carrier is to “We will incorporate very new, ex-Avianca aircraft built in 2016.”
Two new A330 additions will arrive before the end of June 2020, according to Boliviana de Aviación’s plans, with the initial fleet addition set to go live before the end of the year. Discussions are ongoing regarding the total number of A330s that will be added to the carrier’s fleet, with Estrada citing the increased size of the airliner over the Boeing 767 as being a significant factor.
Funding from the state will also be utilized in order to replace existing 737-300s with new 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft. Estrada noted that the airline would be “operating a homogeneous domestic and regional fleet of 14 Boeing 737-700 and -800s” by 2021.
Boliviana de Aviación has faced its fair share of criticism in recent months after the airline was publicly criticized by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales following a raft of technical incidents and flight cancellations. Nine major incidents have been reported to the authorities by the carrier in 2019 alone, and Morales apologized for what he described as “structural problems”.
Simple Flying reported just last month that the airline had chosen to remove its final route from Bolivia to the United States amid financial pressures. And the Centre for Aviation has reported in the last 24 hours that Boliviana de Aviación will suspend its Santa Cruz-Salta service due to economic difficulties in Argentina.
Bolivia has also faced its own economic malaise, being ranked as the poorest country in South America, with poverty being an everyday reality for much of the population. In this context, air travel is beyond the feasible reach of large swathes of the Bolivian population.