Spanish airline Cosmo which purchased in an auction in Montevideo seven aircraft from Uruguay’s liquidated flag-carrier Pluna said they will be used “to expand the charter flight business in Central and Eastern Europe”, according to an official company communiqué released by the Spanish government news agency EFE.
“The aircraft purchased (Canadian manufactured Bombardier CRJ900) are adequate for the different flight distances existent in those regions of Europe” added the release.
Since the company was only recently started, Cosmo points out that their offices are in Madrid and until the beginning of this week it owned a fleet of two Airbus 320, for 180 pax, and was in the process of expanding the fleet with more Airbus 320.
“With the incorporation of the seven Bombardier the objective is a quantitative and qualitative jump in the company’s European charter flight operations”.
Cosmo describes itself as a company that delivers integral and quality service in commercial air transport and covers different forms of business in the industry both for cargo and passenger including leasing, chartering, ACMI and exploiting passenger commercial airlines.
The Cosmo purchase of the seven Bombardiers for the going price of 137 million dollars came as a relief, surprise and later concern for the Uruguayan government and other parties involved in the Pluna business.
In effect the over 700 staff left redundant by Pluna was expecting the new owners to contract some of them and re-launch an airline with the Uruguayan flag, as had been promised by the administration of President Jose Mujica, but that will not happen with Cosmo.
Pluna was declared bankrupt last 9 July because of mounting debts of over 380 million dollars and a week later the Uruguayan congress, with only the votes from the ruling coalition, approved the liquidation of the airline started in 1936 and the creation of a trust with the recoverable assets for that purpose.
Pluna at the time was operating 250 weekly flights in the region, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, which represented 80% of all Uruguayan air operations and of the recently inaugurated new Carrasco air terminal.
Cosmo now has 30 days to confirm the purchase and payment said Javier Liberman head of the trust.
With the money from the auction the Uruguayan government plans to pay Canada’s Nova Scotia bank the loan with which the Bombardiers were originally acquired.
Pluna still has another six Bombardier but on leasing. However if they are returned before the agreed contract terms there is a hefty fine.
Thus according to reliable sources at the Uruguayan ministry of Public Works, the six aircraft and probably 120 former Pluna staff members will be contracted in a new regional airline or a re-founded Pluna but managed by Lopez Mena who runs the successful ferry lines linking Uruguay with Argentina.
Lopez Mena already has an incipient airline: BQB, with two turbo aircraft, and is covering some of the shuttle flights between Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Besides and as important he has the best possible political connections with the Uruguayan government.