Sociedad Uruguaya de Aviación (SUA), a privately owned company, has begun the process of becoming Uruguay's new flag carrier. The endeavor is led by Antonio Rama, a Uruguayan commander who has been based in Doha for a decade.
SUA has expressed its intention to submit the necessary documentation to commence operations in Uruguay in a letter addressed to President Luis Lacalle Pou and key ministers. The decision was made after discussions that began six months ago, demonstrating a proactive approach to capitalising on opportunities presented by a flag carrier, as conveyed by Undersecretary of Transport and Public Works Juan José Olaizola.
Undersecretary Remo Monzeglio affirmed, We appreciate the good intention and will wait for certification. Once finalised, they will receive our full support from the Ministry of Tourism.
Uruguay used to have a flag carrier. Pluna, which was fully owned by the Uruguayan state, began operations in 1936. However, due to mounting financial difficulties, the company was closed down on July 5, 2012, just two days into a workers' strike. The then-government of José 'Pepe' Mujica decided to terminate the operations of the national flag carrier after 76 years of service.
SUA plans to position its operations at Carrasco Airport and deploy a fleet of six Airbus aircraft within 18 months, expanding to ten within the first three years. The company aims to generate 300 highly skilled direct jobs and over 1,500 indirect jobs.
SUA's letter also reveals plans for a strategic partnership with Airbus, negotiating the establishment of the company's first maintenance and operations center for Latin America in Uruguay. Within the next five years, SUA plans to install the first Category D full flight simulator for regional pilot training.
The initiative is being led by Rama, an experienced figure in the aviation industry who is currently a Boeing 777 instructor at Qatar Airways. Rama's background includes founding and chairing U Air, as well as participating in the business plans of Pluna and LeadGate, making him well-suited to the project. According to El Observador, Rama brings a wealth of experience to the initiative.
The most recent Uruguayan flag carrier was Amaszonas Uruguay, which ceased operations in January 2021. Prior to that, BQB Líneas Aéreas, which began flying in 2010, carried the Uruguayan flag until it was sold to Bolivian firm Amaszonas in 2015.
Between 2015 and 2016, it also operated Alas Uruguay, an Uruguayan flag carrier created by former Pluna workers after the closure of the latter company.
Back in October, 2023, Uruguay's Tourism Undersecretary Remo Monzeglio said that there were several airlines interested in flying under the flag of the South American country.
“In fact, some are flying under the Uruguayan flag with temporary permission,” Monzeglio pointed out.
“Uruguay has international agreements that would allow them to reach certain destinations, that is an asset we have and that is what explains that very soon an airline will start flying from Curitiba, a Brazilian city of two million inhabitants with a medium-high and high purchasing power,” he added.
Uruguay and Brazil have just inaugurated the first binational airport in the region. It is located in the northern city of Rivera, near the border with Brazil, and is one of the Lacalle Pou government's major commitments to improve Uruguay's connectivity with the world.