Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela

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Not to be confused with Aéropostale.
Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela
Aeropostal logo.svg
Founded 3 July 1929
Hubs Simón Bolívar Int'l Airport
Fleet size 7
Destinations 8
Parent company Corporación Alas de Venezuela
Headquarters Torre Polar Oeste
Caracas, Venezuela
Key people Eduardo Legaspi Zuazua, president[1]

Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela, normally referred to as just Aeropostal, is a formerly state-owned (now private owned) airline of Venezuela based in Torre Polar Oeste in Caracas, Venezuela.[2] It operates domestic services and international services in the Caribbean. Its main base is Simón Bolívar International Airport, Caracas.[3]


Early history[edit]

Venezuela was one of the first South American nations to resort to commercial aviation as an effective means of transportation. In 1929, the French company Aéropostale (known as Lignes Aériennes Latécoère until 1927), then under the leadership of its owner Marcel Bouilloux-Lafont, arrived in Venezuela. Aéropostale viewed Venezuela as the ideal bridge to link South America with the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. This idea materialized on 3 July 1929. Three Latécoère 28's carried out the first flights of the new airline, although some Latécoère 26's were also used in those earlier routes. On 31 December 1933, the Venezuelan government purchased the airline after the French government inexplicably decided to stop subsidizing it.

Life as a government owned company[edit]

Despite its new Venezuelan ownership, the airline continued to be run by French personnel under the direction of Robert Guérin until 1 January 1935, when its name was changed to Línea Aeropostal Venezolana (LAV) and operations shifted to Venezuelan hands under the management of commander Francisco Leonardi. At the start, the company was capitalized at 1,600,000 bolívares, but it wasn't until 21 May 1937, that the government of Venezuela secured full ownership of the airline. It did so through an injection of capital and by replacing the Latécoère 28's with several Fairchild 71's. The expansion program was further reinforced with the purchase of six Lockheed Model 10 Electras. In 1939, LAV's headquarters were moved from Maracay to Maiquetía because of its proximity to Caracas. That same year, Douglas DC-3s were introduced in order to transport larger cargo loads and passengers. By 1942 the fleet had grown considerably. LAV's first international flights began in July 1945, serving the city of Boa Vista in northern Brazil. It wasn't really considered an international destination as it was close to Venezuela's border. LAV's second international route was to Aruba in January 1946. This connected to KLM's international route structure.

Aeropostal 1950s Logo

After the war ended, LAV re-equipped with newer aircraft, replacing its Electra and Lockheed Lodestar fleet which was decimated by many accidents over the previous five years. Douglas DC-3s and Douglas DC-4s were introduced along with Martin 2-0-2 aircraft. In 1947, the airline introduced Lockheed Constellations to fly a new direct international route from Caracas to New York's Idlewild Airport. This new service started on 21 March 1947.

In 1951, LAV began service to Lima, Peru and Bogotá, Colombia. The Bogotá route was acquired by LAV after they purchased 88% of TACA de Venezuela. Previously, TACA de Venezuela had a joint route agreement with the Colombian airline, LANSA. Until TACA de Venezuela was completely absorbed by LAV in 1958, the route to Bogotá was flown using TACA aircraft in TACA livery. During the 1950s, LAV opened a transatlantic service and began flying to Panama (in 1953). The Constellation fleet was upgraded to L-1049G Super Constellations. An order for the first jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet 1, was placed, but with the Comet crashes of the 1950s, the airline never got their Comet jets. On 24 March 1956, LAV introduced its first turboprop, a Vickers Viscount 701 which was to replace the older piston engined Douglas and Martin aircraft.

Old Aeropostal Logo

In the early 1960s, the Venezuelan government wanted to separate LAV's international and domestic routes, thus creating a new airline, Viasa, for international flights. A new livery was introduced for the new decade. The full airline title which had appeared on the Constellation fleet was simplified to a simple and bold AEROPOSTAL. The Constellations flew with a flying globe logo on the nose, was also simplified, now appearing on the fin as a flying bird logo, a logo that would remain with the airline. Also in the early 1960s, the 'jet-prop' Avro 748 was introduced to replace the smaller piston twins that had made up LAV's fleet since 1938. Douglas DC-8 jets were introduced in 1961 to replace the Super Constellations.

During the 1960s and 1990s LAV continued to introduce new fleet types like first the Caravelle and then Boeing/Douglas DC-9-32, the Boeing/Douglas DC-9-51 and the DC-9-80

During the late 1980s, Aeropostal substituted Viasa with a run from Caracas to Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the airline also sponsored WAPA-TV's weekly, youth oriented Control Remoto television show.[citation needed]

Recent history[edit]

In August 1994, commercial operations ceased, as part of a government effort to trim expenses. Corporacion Alas de Venezuela (CAV), a private company owned by Nelson Ramiz, a Cuban born US citizen and his Venezuelan wife, Haydhelm Emilia Valesquez Morales, in 1996 bought the assets from the liquidator, at an auction in Caracas on 27 September 1997, in a transaction that led to litigation in New York and Caracas. The purchase was funded by an investment company Alas International Limited ("Alas"). Instead of delivering the assets to Alas, CAV restarted operations on 7 January 1997 using the purchased assets without permission from Alas. Alas launched a series of lawsuits against Ramiz, Valesquez, CAV and Aeropostal and on 2 November 1998, the US Supreme Court of New York found in favor of Alas, a judgement later confirmed on appeal. The essence of the judgement was that neither Ramiz, Morales or the airline had any economic or legal interest in the various assets or aircraft purchased in 1997. As a result, CAV, the airline and Ramiz entered into a settlement agreement on February 29, 2000, filed and entered at the New York Supreme Court with Index No. 601817/97 under which Alas allowed the airline to continue flying the aircraft in return for various payments. CAV and the airline subsequently defaulted on the settlement and further litigation followed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York under case reference 652688/2012.

The airline was fully owned by Corporacion Alas de Venezuela and had 2,319 employees (at March 2007).[3] As of 2008 it was reported that the airline was sold to a group led by the Mahkled family from the state of Carabobo, Venezuela. The Makled family were later arrested by the Venezuelan government on money laundering and drug running charges but this transaction has been challenged as ineffective as neither Ramiz nor his wife had the power to transfer the shares. In 2009 the Venezuelan government announced its intention to nationalise Aeropostal, following the arrest of several owners and employees in 2008 on Interpol drug trafficking warrants.[4]

An Aeropostal MD-82 at Jacinto Lara International Airport

Flights to the United States began in July 1998 and to Madrid in November 2001, although the latter have since ceased. In the late 1990s, Aeropostal introduced two US-registered Airbus A320s to fly alongside the fleet of DC-9, McDonnell Douglas MD-83 and Boeing 727-200 jets. At the end of 2007, Nelson Ramiz (then CEO) reduced the fleet of 22 to only 3 claiming that the currency controls imposed by the Venezuelan government prevented him from maintaining the fleet, and that fare controls kept Aeropostal from making a profit. During that period, the Venezuelan Government planned on shutting down the airline if major changes were not planned.

The INAC (The Federal Aviation Administration of Venezuela) temporarily grounded Aeropostal operations, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the high-travel holiday season.

On 25 February 2011, Aeropostal's Special Managing Board officially announced the retirement of YV141T, its last DC-9-30 from the active fleet. The final commercial flight was done on 10 March 2011. While -30s Series has been retired, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-9-50s will continue in service for Aeropostal, and according LAV there are no plans to retire them for the next 3 years.


Aeropostal operates flights to the following destinations:

South America


As of January 2011, the Aeropostal fleet consists of the following aircraft with an average age of 28 years:[5]

Aeropostal fleet
Aircraft In Service Passengers Notes
J Y Total
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50
0 130 130
McDonnell Douglas MD-82
0 164 164
McDonnell Douglas MD-82
0 155 155
McDonnell Douglas MD-83
12 128 140 Currently stored
Total 8

Retired Fleet[edit]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Aeropostal has had a total of 24 accidents and incidents since 23 April 1937 with a total of 319 fatalities. The worst accident for Aeropostal (and the worst scheduled-airline accident in history until then)[6] was on 20 June 1956, when 74 people were killed when a Lockheed Constellation, registration YV-C-AMS, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New York.[7]

  • On 25 January 1971, Vickers Viscount YV-C-AMV of Linea Aeropostal Venezolana crashed into a mountain near Mérida. Thirteen of the 47 people on board were killed.[8]
  • On 29 July 1984, Aeropostal Flight 252 from Caracas to Curaçao, two gunmen, one Haitian and one of Dominican nationality, hijacked the plane with 79 people on board. The hijackers demanded money, weapons, and a helicopter to remove five children from the aircraft, and also threatened to blow up the plane if stormed. The plane was stormed by Venezuelan commandos of the DISIP, both hijackers were killed, and all hostages were released, ending the 36-hour long crisis.[12]
  • On 26 Sep 2011, Aeropostal DC9-50 YV136T made a hard touch down at Puerto Ordaz causing both engines' (JT8D) pylons and support structures at the airframe to crack and distort nearly separating the engines from the airframe. The airplane slowed safely, stopped on the runway and was shut down. No injuries occurred, the aircraft received substantial damage. The passengers disembarked onto the runway.[13]

Inflight magazine[edit]

PASAJERO 2007 Cover. Published by Playalens, Inc.

Pasajero ("Passenger") is Aeropostal's in-flight magazine. It is published six times a year with a circulation of 20,000 copies distributed in all domestic and international Aeropostal flights. Pasajero is published by Playalens, Inc., a Hispanic-owned Miami-based publishing company.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Contacto." Aeropostal. Retrieved on 7 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 27 March 2007. pp. 49–50. 
  4. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 29 March 2009, Venezuela to Nationalize Drug Trafficking-Linked Airline Aeropostal.
  5. ^ Aeropostal fleet list at
  6. ^ NY Times, 21 June 1956 p23. The worst airline accident was a charter Avro Tudor crash in Wales in March 1950 that killed 80.
  7. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  9. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  10. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  12. ^ Hijackers Only Casualties In Rescue Raid
  13. ^ Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 YV136T Puerto Ordaz Airport

External links[edit]