NEW AIRLINE: LAMIA Plans Relaunch in Venezuela

Venezuelan carrier LAMIA - Linea Aérea Merideña Internacional de Aviación is set to relaunch operations later this month, around a year after its first attempt to break into the domestic market.  The carrier is in the process of accepting delivery of a single Avro RJ85 formerly operated by Irish regional airline CityJet and is understood to be in talks to acquire one or two more aircraft.  It previously launched operations on August 16, 2010 using an ATR 72-200 wet-leased from Spanish company Swiftair, but suspended services in October after it failed to secure its own Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

It is understood from local sources that the issues that prevented it receiving its AOC last year have now been resolved and that the carrier will get the green light to launch passenger operations shortly after its first aircraft arrives in the South American country.  LAMIA is a joint venture between the Venezuelan Government and private business interests in the northwestern state of Mérida.  In its previous incarnation it offered services from Alberto Carnevalli Airport in the state’s capital Mérida, providing links to Caracas from the city, one of the principal gateways to the Venezuelan Andes.  It is also planning to offer services from Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso in El Vigía.

The airline will initially focus on domestic routes, but as more aircraft arrive it plans to expand into international markets with destinations in Colombia, the Caribbean and the US under consideration.  There are currently no scheduled flights listed as operating from Mérida although a regular shuttle was operated to Caracas in the past. 

Venezuela’s prominent international carrier Conviasa (Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronáuticas y Servicios Aéreos) is currently listed as offering 12 flights per week between El Vigía and Caracas.  However, the airline accounts for just 17.6 per cent of the total domestic capacity, a market dominated by Aserca Airlines with more than 350 weekly flights to nine destinations.  An estimated 166,000 O&D passengers travelled between El Vigía and Caracas, a route that has also been served by Laser (Línea Aérea de Servicio Ejecutivo Regional Airlines) and Santa Barbara Airlines in the past 12 months.  Laser has also offered flights between El Vigía and Porlamar during the period.

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