Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela

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Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela
Aeropostal logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
VH ALV AEROPOSTAL
FoundedJuly 3, 1929
Hubs
Frequent-flyer programAeroPass
Fleet size2
Destinations4
Parent companyCorporación Alas de Venezuela (Gobierno Bolivariano de Venezuela)
HeadquartersCaracas, Venezuela
Key peopleEduardo Legaspi Zuazua (CEO and president)[1]
Websitewww.aeropostal.com

Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela C.A. (normally referred to as just Aeropostal) is a state-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] The airline ceased operations on September 24, 2017 after 88 years of service due to its financial position.[4] On August 8, 2018, the company announced that it would begin scheduled service again, first to Havana, Cuba with three weekly flights.[5]

History[edit]

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 July 3, 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 December 31, 1933, the Venezuelan government purchased the airline after the French government inexplicably decided to stop subsidizing it.

Life as a government-owned company[edit]

Aeropostal 1950s Logo
Old Aeropostal Logo

Despite its new Venezuelan ownership, the airline continued to be run by French personnel under the direction of Robert Guérin until January 1, 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 May 21, 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.

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 March 21, 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 March 24, 1956, LAV introduced its first turboprop, a Vickers Viscount 701 which was to replace the older piston engined Douglas and Martin aircraft.

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 Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the airline also sponsored WAPA-TV's weekly, youth oriented Control Remoto television show.

Recent history[edit]

In August 1994, commercial operations ceased, as part of a government effort to trim expenses. In 1996 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 bought the assets from the liquidator, at an auction in Caracas on September 27, 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 purchased assets to Alas, as required by the funding agreement, CAV restarted airline operations on January 7, 1998 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, CAV or the airline had any economic or legal interest in the various assets purchased in 1997, including the aircraft and the trade name "Aeropostal". 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[6] under which title of the aircraft transferred to the Alas owners but Alas allowed the airline to continue flying the aircraft in return for various payments. CAV and Aeropostal subsequently defaulted on the settlement and further litigation followed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York under case reference 652688/2012,[7] as a result of which, CAV and Aeropostal owe the successors to Alas very significant damages.

As of March 2007,[3] Aeropostal had 2,319 employees.

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 Irish-registered Airbus A320s EI-TL,O and EI-TL,P 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 civil aviation authority of Venezuela) temporarily grounded Aeropostal operations, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the high-travel holiday season.

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 as these were pledged to Alas under the settlement agreement referred to above. 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.[8]

On February 25, 2011, Aeropostal's Special Managing Board officially announced the retirement of YV141T, the last DC-9-30 in the active fleet. The final commercial flight was done on 10 March 2011. Although the -30s Series has been retired, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-9-50s will continue flying for Aeropostal, and according to LAV there are no plans for their retirement in the next 3 years. On September 24, 2017, Aerospostal ceased operations. The Board of Directors announced retired of operations of the airline, due to financial and economical problems.[9] On August 8, 2018, the company informed to continue flights again, along with the opening of a route to Havana from Caracas with three weekly frequencies.[10]

Destinations[edit]

Country City Airport Notes Refs
Aruba Oranjestad Queen Beatrix International Airport Terminated
Colombia Cucuta Camilo Daza International Airport Terminated
Cuba Havana José Marti International Airport
Curaçao Williamstad Curaçao International Airport Terminated
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Las Americas International Airport Terminated
Ecuador Guayaquil José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport Terminated
Panama Panama City Tocumen International Airport Terminated
Peru Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport Terminated
Portugal Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport Terminated
Spain Madrid Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminated
Trinidad and Tobago Port Spain Piarco International Airport Terminated
United States Chicago O'Hare International Airport Terminated
United States Miami Miami International Airport Terminated
United States New York JFK International Airport Terminated
Venezuela Baquisimento Jacinto Lara International Airport Terminated
Venezuela Caracas Simón Bolívar International Airport Hub
Venezuela Cumana Antonio José de Sucre Airport Terminated
Venezuela Las Piedras Josefa Camejo International Airport Terminated
Venezuela Maracaibo La Chinita International Airport
Venezuela Maturin José Tadeo Monagas International Airport Terminated
Venezuela Merida Alberto Carnevalli Airport Terminated
Venezuela Porlamar Santiago Mariño Caribbean International Airport Hub
Venezuela Puerto Cabello General Bartolomé Salom Airport Terminated
Venezuela Puerto Ordaz Manuel Carlos Piar Guayana Airport Terminated

Fleet[edit]

Current fleet[edit]

As of January 2021, the Aeropostal fleet consisted of the following aircraft:[11]

Aeropostal fleet
Aircraft In Service Passengers Notes
J Y Total
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 2 164 164
Total 2

In addition, Aeropostal uses a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 as a crew training aircraft.

Retired fleet[edit]

A former Aeropostal Boeing 727-200 at Miami International Airport in 2001

Aeropostal had in the past operated the following aircraft:[12]

Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A310-300 2 1998 2000 Transferred to Khalifa Airways
Airbus A320-200 5 1998 2001 Leased from TransAer and Transmeridian Airlines
Boeing 727-200 8 1998 2009
Boeing 737-300 1 2004 2004 Leased from Falcon Air Express
Boeing 767-300ER 1 2002 2002 Leased from Air Europa
Bristol 170 Freighter 1 Un­known Un­known
Curtiss C-46 Commando 4 1951 1979
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 7 1977 1988
Douglas C-47 Skytrain 45 1946 1979
Douglas C-54 Skymaster 1 1946 1947
Douglas DC-3C 4 1945 1973
Douglas DC-8-61 1 1992 1993 Operated by Buffalo Airways
Fairchild 82 3 1937 Un­known
Hawker Siddeley HS 748 10 1965 1987
Howard DGA-15 1 1940 1945
Latecoere 28 5 1934 1940
Lockheed Model 10A Electra 8 1936 1946
Lockheed Model 12A Electra Junior 1 1938 Un­known
Lockheed Model 14H Super Electra 2 1939 1944
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar 3 1942 1946
Lockheed L-049 Constellation 2 1946 1955
Lockheed L-749 Constellation 2 1947 1958
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation 8 1954 1963
Martin 2-0-2 2 1947 1960
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10 4 1975 1993
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-20 3 2001 2006
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 10 1976 2017
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30CF 2 1986 2006
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 20 1976 2013
McDonnell Douglas MD-83 11 1986 2009
Stinson Reliant 1 1943 Un­known
Vickers Viscount 700 7 1956 1974

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Aeropostal has had a total of 24 accidents and incidents since April 23, 1937 with a total of 319 fatalities. The worst accident for Aeropostal (and the worst scheduled-airline accident in history until then)[13] was on June 20, 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.[14]

  • On January 25, 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.[15]
  • On July 29, 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.[19]
  • On September 26, 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.[20]

Inflight magazine[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.eluniversal.com/economia/130808/cordero-urgelles-fue-designado-presidente-de-aeropostal
  2. ^ "Contacto Archived 20 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine." Aeropostal. Retrieved on 7 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 27 March 2007. pp. 49–50.
  4. ^ "Venezuela's Aeropostal Ceases Operations - Airways Magazine". 25 September 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  5. ^ http://www.granma.cu/mundo/2018-08-08/reanuda-vuelos-a-cuba-aerolinea-venezolana-aeropostal-08-08-2018-20-08-34
  6. ^ New York Supreme Court, Index No. 601817/97
  7. ^ New York Supreme Court Index No. 652688/2012
  8. ^ Venezuelanalysis, 29 March 2009, Venezuela to Nationalize Drug Trafficking-Linked Airline Aeropostal.
  9. ^ Por Luis López. "Aeropostal cerró sus operaciones" (in Spanish). El-nacional.com. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Aeropostal reanuda operaciones con vuelos Caracas-La Habana". LaPatilla.com (in Spanish). 8 August 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Aeropostal Fleet Details and History". Planespotters.net. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Aeropostal fleet". aerobernie.bplaced.net. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  13. ^ NY Times, June 21, 1956 p23. The worst airline accident was a charter Avro Tudor crash in Wales in March 1950 that killed 80.
  14. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  16. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  17. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  18. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  19. ^ "Hijackers Only Casualties in Rescue Raid". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  20. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 YV136T Puerto Ordaz Airport (PZO)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 20 March 2018.

External links[edit]