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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 10:01 AM EDT

Aeroperlas Given 90 More Days To Decide Their Future

Cars & Transportation It's been 99 days since 29 February 2012, when the airline Aeroperlas, a subsidiary of Avianca Taca, suddenly announced the cessation of its operations in the country, and after this period the company continued on a temporary suspension of its operating certificate, after it was granted a further extension for 90 days.

Claudia Arenas, the International Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications for the Avianca Taca Group, said the evaluation process scheduled for a definite definition on the subject of the Aeroperlas airline has taken longer than expected, and for this reason, the company proceeded to ask the authorities for an additional period of 90 days (three months), which was authorized on May 31 this year.

Rafael Barcenas, the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said in the case of Aeroperlas, "we will not rush the situation to move it to another level, because our hope is that in the future, this company can again begin to work with any type of operation, because it suits the country and the consumer that there are two companies providing domestic flight service."

When referring to the end of the 90-day extension requested by the airline, he said the airline company can request additional extensions in order to maintain Aeroperlas alive as a company, and once they desist from making such requests, then the company itself stops functioning.

He explained ticket prices for domestic airfare in Panama is regulated, which is why if Aeroperlas is out of the game, then Air Panama cannot remain with a guaranteed monopoly, which will prevent a rise in prices, because the State has established a price cap for such flights which has not changed. He added the Air Panama airline absorbed the entire Aeroperlas customer base and that it has the capacity to cover the routes and destinations that were being provided by the other company. Barcenas said at present there are no proposals from other companies to provide the service Aeroperlas vacated.

Eduardo Stagg, CEO of Air Panama, said they increased their flights to destinations such as Bocas del Toro, David and Contadora, following the cessation of operations of Aeroperlas. "The number of flights depends on the season and type of aircraft; for example, to Bocas del Toro, before we flew two flights a day in an aircraft with 34 seats, which we replaced with three flights a day in an aircraft with 50 seats," said Stagg. He said to David, in the province of Chiriqui, they increased from three flights per day to four or five, depending on demand. On the increase of passengers, he said compared to the same period last year they've seen an increase of 25% to 30%, and he said they have also hired more people and increased their fleet of aircraft.

Passenger Movement Data - The Aeroperlas airline transported a total of 113,222 passengers during 2011, while in 2010 the company transported a total of 110,000 passengers, representing an increase of 2.2% over the previous year. They also canceled the flights to Pedasi, in the province of Los Santos. (Panama America)

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