Revitalising South America’s smallest flag carrier

by Dave

FlightGlobal

[Matias] Campiani, CEO says the financial turnaround is proof Pluna’s new strategy of turning Montevideo into a hub for the Southern Cone of South America is working. Over the last year the carrier has added frequencies to key business centres such as Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo while launching new thin routes such as Asuncion in Paraguay, Rosario in Argentina and Curitiba in Brazil.

Pluna previously was primarily an origin and destination carrier with less than 10% of its traffic connecting. Campiani says Pluna has already succeeded at increasing its transfer business to 40%.

The new network strategy was made possible by switching to smaller aircraft. Pluna last year placed an order for seven Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen regional jets plus eight options. The carrier over the last six months has already taken delivery of six CRJ900s with the seventh due to be delivered next month. “In a crisis situation I think we have the right size aircraft,” Campiani says.

He adds the CRJ900 is also the right size aircraft to operate fifth-freedom routes from smaller cities in the region such as Asuncion. Pluna currently only operates from Montevideo and the Uruguayan seaside resort of Punta del Este, but Campiani reveals the carrier aims to begin operating routes that entirely bypass Uruguay in March.

“We have open skies with Chile and Paraguay so we want to start using that,” Campiani says. “We’re pretty limited with the hub out of Uruguay, but there’s a very big point-to-point market [in the region]. I think there’ll be a lot of opportunities for Pluna on point-to-point.”

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