Transporte Aéreo Militar - TAM (La Paz El Alto) will cease all civilian passenger operations with effect from December 16 following a directive from the Bolivian Ministry of Public Works issued on Thursday, December 8.

In the public notice, the Ministry said the airline had failed to comply with ICAO-stipulated safety standards. A member of TAM's parent, the Bolivian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Boliviana), confirmed the order but noted the airline would still be able to carry out military-related flights.

Passengers affected by the suspension of flights will be accommodated with BoA - Boliviana de Aviación (OB, La Paz El Alto).

Having operated as a military transport carrier for the past several years, the Bolivian government last year warned TAM that unless it secured an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the country's civil aviation authority (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil - DGAC), it risked being barred from offering civilian services.

While government has been lenient with TAM, the recent crash of LaMia Bolivia (Santa Cruz Viru Viru) ARJ-85 CP-2933 (msn E2348) near Medellín José Maria Córdova, Colombia late last month has forced it to crackdown on errant operators amid increased international scrutiny of Bolivia's aeronautical landscape.

In its defense, the airline has blamed its failure to meet several past deadlines on financial difficulties caused, in part, by a hefty outstanding tax bill.

TAM director, Colonel Ricardo Gómez, told a press conference on Friday, December 9, that the Air Force will shortly seek a Supreme Court Decree which will allow the government to turn TAM into a new public company. This, he said, will allow for a restructuring of the airline and a revision of its safety oversight procedures.

TAM currently operates six B737-200Advs (of which five are active), one B737-300, seven BAe 146-200s (of which only one is active), and two MA-60s on scheduled flights across Bolivia.