What Happened To Bolivia’s Flag Carrier Lloyd Aereo Boliviano

Daniel Martinez, Simple Flying:

Bolivia currently has two main airlines in Boliviana de Aviación (or BoA) and Línea Aérea Amaszonas (or simply Amaszonas), but once it had one of the oldest carriers ever launched in Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB). This company was famous throughout Latin America, and its brand holds the value equivalent to Mexicana de Aviación in Mexico, TACA in Central America, and Varig in Brazil. Let’s investigate further about LAB.

LAB was a Bolivian airline that flew between 1925 and 2007. Photo: Getty Images.

The origins of LAB

Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano started flying in Cochabamba and La Paz back in 1925. It was one of the first carriers ever to cross the Latin American skies. The first was a Colombian airline under the name Sociedad Colombo Alemana de Transporte Aéreo, or SCADTA. Now we know it as Avianca, and it was launched in 1919. Two years later, two US citizens started Mexicana de Aviación.

The third carrier was Lloyd. Like many Latin American airlines back in the 1920s, it was created by a group of foreign investors. They came from Germany. According to Aviacionline, the name Lloyd came from the British insurance company Lloyd’s of London.

LAB started flying with a Junkers F-13, given to it by the German Government. It first flew between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

In 1930, LAB had its first international flight, between La Paz and Corumba, in Brazil.

At one point, LAB flew to 15 international destinations. Photo: M.Oertle via Flickr.

Crises and growth

During the Second World War, the Bolivian Government nationalized LAB, after pressure from the US Government. This was down to LAB’s German origins and investors.

By 1970, the airline bought its first Boeing 727-100 and, at one point, it also had Airbus A300, A310, Boeing 737, Fairchild F-27, and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar aircraft in its fleet.

In the early 1990s, LAB had a map route of 21 domestic and 15 international destinations. Nevertheless, it was in crisis, and the Government sold the company to a private investor. This investor was VASP, a Brazilian company that managed Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano for six years.

How did it go down?

In the early 2000s, Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano went again into crisis mode. VASP sold its stake to Bolivian investors. Nevertheless, by 2006, the workers administered the carrier but couldn’t make it take off.

According to Semana, LAB had a debt of US$140 million, plus wages, and the Bolivian authorities declined to rescue the historical airline.

In 2007, the airline stopped flying, but it never ceased operations technically, depending on who you ask. LAB is currently in a reorganization mode, stranded in a limbo that seems eerily similar to Mexicana de Aviación. Nevertheless, it could fly again.

Boliviana de Aviación is currently the powerhouse in Bolivia. Photo: Jimmy Harris via Wikimedia Commons.

Could Lloyd be coming back?

Since 2008 there have been talks about relaunching Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano. Remember, that’s something we see a lot in Latin America. There are many rumors about Mexicana’s rebirth, without any real possibility of actually happen, the same as Varig in Brazil. So far, the only company that actually may resurge is Ecuatoriana de Aviación (now Ecuatoriana Airlines).

Nevertheless, according to NewsTime, LAB may be flying again in 2021. According to the Bolivian news website, LAB is only waiting for authorization of the Civil Aviation Authorities.

LAB has three parked planes, one of them being a Boeing 727-200, with a capacity for 164 passengers.

The resurgence of LAB is something that many Bolivians would like. The domestic market is controlled by Boliviana de Aviación. In 2019, BoA held a 79% market share. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bolivia was averaging more than 8 million yearly passengers, with lots of potentials to grow.

Do you expect Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano ever to fly again? Let us know in the comments. [use the link below]


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