NELLA Airlines Inc., the American parent of Brazilian start-up NELLA Linhas Aéreas (Brasilia), has acquired a 100% stake in Amaszonas (Z8, La Paz El Alto) for USD50 million and has committed to financing the Bolivian carrier's post-COVID restructuring.

"In order to face these new and great challenges, we have decided to start the process of selling the company to a new international group that has identified an opportunity to integrate Amaszonas into its business plan for growth in Latin America," Amaszonas's President Sergio de Urioste said.

De Urioste revealed that NELLA's first task would be to fund the restructuring of Amaszonas and settle the debts it has accumulated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the long run, the investor plans to expand the carrier.

Amaszonas was previously highly critical of the lack of support from the Bolivian government even as the air traffic market in the country and the whole of Latin America suffered due to the pandemic.

Bolivian Minister of Public Works, Services and Housing Édgar Montaño said that Amaszonas was indebted to the state to the tune of BOB23 million bolivianos (USD3.3 million). This sum includes amounts owed to the transportation authorities, airports, and the air navigation service provider. Montaño underlined that the government would not allow the transfer of ownership to become an excuse to bail out on the debt repayment.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Amaszonas currently operates one CRJ100LR, six CRJ200LRs, one DHC-8-200, one DHC-8-Q200, and six E190s, although due to the current downturn, its only active aircraft are four of the Embraer regional jets. The company chiefly operates domestically in Bolivia, although it also flies from Santa Cruz Viru Viru to Asuncion in Paraguay and Iquique in Chile (2x weekly each). It owns Amaszonas Uruguay (AUZ, Montevideo), which has been dormant since December 2020 and currently does not have any aircraft. Recently, local sources have also reported that Amaszonas was touting an idea to launch a new cargo carrier in Paraguay.

While NELLA Linhas Aéreas has yet to complete its certification in Brazil, the acquisition of Amaszonas is already its second foreign investment in recent weeks. In July, it acquired, for an undisclosed sum, a stake in Venezuela's Albatros Airlines (GAL, Maracay).

NELLA's core project in Brazil remains opaque. The start-up initially planned to launch as a regional specialist with a fleet of ATR72-600s based out of Brasilia but recently shifted its focus to A320-200s. It hopes to complete its certification and launch by the end of 2021. Then, it plans to add ATR - Avions de Transport Régional aircraft and possibly unspecified freighters in 2022. During a recent webinar with Brazilian aviation blog Aerocast, Chief Executive Mauricio Souza said NELLA also planned to add two B777-300s.

NELLA Airlines Inc. is wholly owned by Orlando-based JKL Holdings.

Editorial Comment: The article updates with the details of the transaction. - 12.08.2021 - 19:54 UTC