LaMia Corporation S.R.L., operating as LaMia (short for Línea Aérea Mérida Internacional de Aviación), was a Bolivian charter airline headquartered in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, as an EcoJet subsidiary. It had its origins from the failed Venezuelan airline of the same name. Founded in 2015, LaMia operated three Avro RJ85 as of November 2016. The airline received international attention when one of its aircraft crashed in November 2016, killing many members of Brazilian football club Chapecoense. In the aftermath, LaMia's air operator's certificate was suspended by the Bolivian civil aviation authority.
|Founded||2009 (Venezuela) |
August 2014 (Bolivia)
|Commenced operations||January 2016|
|Ceased operations||December 1, 2016|
|Hubs||Viru Viru International Airport|
|Headquarters||Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia|
|Key people||Gustavo Vargas Gamboa (Owner)|
Bolivian airline LaMia originated in the failed Venezuelan airline of the same name, which was founded as LAMIA, C.A. in 2009 by Spanish businessman Ricardo Albacete. The name chosen, styled as LaMia, was the acronym of Línea Aérea Mérida Internacional de Aviación. It took delivery of an ATR 72-500 wet leased from Swiftair and intended to begin service out of Mérida, Venezuela, its original base. However, the company failed to secure its own air operator's certificate and folded in October 2010 after only operating since August, with Swiftair taking back the aircraft. After its permits expired, LaMia attempted a relaunch in 2011 by taking a single Avro RJ85 and focusing on domestic flights, although none operated from Mérida. Having had its efforts in Mérida thwarted twice, the airline moved to the state of Nueva Esparta: the airline changed the M in its name to mean Margarita and planned to relaunch in early 2014 operating out of Porlamar. A November 2013 demonstration flight featured the state's governor, Carlos Mata Figueroa, and Albacete gave a speech praising Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro; this incarnation also fell through amidst the country's worsening economic crisis. In 2014, LaMia even placed its planes in Trujillo, Trujillo, apparently with the intent of operating flights from Valera to Caracas, but these efforts never got off the ground; the airline failed to receive certification from the National Institute of Civil Aviation (INAC), and the planes were only in Venezuela for a year.
With their repeated failures in two Venezuelan states, the Venezuelan owners opted to lease the three RJ85s they had to Bolivian entrepreneurs; in a cost-cutting move, the Bolivian company adopted the name already painted on the aircraft: LaMia. The two aircraft not in service at the time of the crash still bore the Venezuelan airline's website, lamia.com.ve, on their sides. In November 2015, Bolivian airline LaMia—a legally distinct company incorporated as LAMIA Corporation SRL—set up offices in a house in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and received permission from its national civil aviation authority to begin offering domestic charter flights there; such operations began in January 2016 under the new company's "indefinite" operating certificate. Its fleet included three RJ85 aircraft with capacity for 95 passengers, though two never flew and the airline never offered commercial service. At the time, operations coordinator Mario Pacheco said that resource extraction and mining companies, travel agencies and soccer teams were among their target clients. Indeed, soccer teams were among the most faithful clients, and the airline had flown the Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela national teams as well as the Colombian Atlético Nacional, the Paraguayan Club Olimpia and local sides Oriente Petrolero, The Strongest and Club Blooming. Additionally, the Bolivian Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy was a client of the airline.
In the aftermath of the crash of Flight 2933, DGAC, Bolivia's aviation authority, suspended LaMia's operating license, and the Bolivian Labor Ministry stated that LaMia was not a registered business with the government. Bolivian law requires all employers to be registered with the Labor Ministry, which maintains the Obligatory Registry of Businesses.
LaMia was headquartered in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It was owned by Gustavo Vargas Gamboa; its other owner, Miguel Alejandro Quiroga Murakami, died in the Flight 2933 accident. As of 30 November 2016, the airline had eight employees.
Albacete, the owner of the Venezuelan airline that owns the Bolivian airline's fleet, told press from Spain that while he was emotionally affected by the disaster, he was not involved in the Bolivian airline's operations.
On 6 December, Vargas Gamboa was arrested along with two other LaMia employees by the local branch of the attorney general's office. He claimed that he had presented his resignation from the company three days before the crash, on 25 November. That same day, the civil aviation authority hauled documents and papers from the airline's Santa Cruz headquarters. The other owner, Miguel Quiroga, had an arrest warrant issued by the Bolivian government for leaving the Bolivian Air Force earlier than had been stipulated, breaking the terms of his pilot training. The Air Force found that Quiroga and four other trained pilots had not provided sufficient justification for leaving before they had completed their required years of military service.
In May 2017, a CNN report revealed that LaMia's insurance policy with Bolivian insurer Bisa had lapsed beginning in October 2016 for nonpayment; while said policy did not cover flights to Colombia, which the insurer included as part of a geographical exclusion clause along with several African countries, as well as Peru, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, the airline managed to get permission to fly to Colombia on at least eight occasions.
|Avro RJ85||2||—||95||Both stored at Cochabamba and Valera.|
The multinational investigative commission opted on December 7 to seize the other two aircraft as part of its investigation. The Bolivian Air Force also revealed that it had filed a lawsuit for maintenance on the downed aircraft carried out by the Air Force in 2014, but for which the airline never paid.
The airline formerly operated the following for the Venezuelan LaMia:
Accidents and incidentsEdit
On the night of November 28, 2016 at approximately 10:33 pm (Bogotá time), LaMia Flight 2933, which carried 77 passengers mostly composed of Brazilian football squad Chapecoense, departed Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) heading towards Medellín (Colombia) when the aircraft crashed in the countryside just outside La Unión in Antioquía department. Out of the 77 passengers, 71 were officially confirmed dead. Miguel Quiroga, one of the flight crew of the downed aircraft, was also a part owner of the airline. The crash exposed gaps in safety at the airline. LaMia did not meet IATA regulations that would have permitted it to handle the aftermath of the crash; instead, the airline had to borrow 100 coffins, requiring Avianca, the Colombian flag carrier, and the Colombian and Brazilian governments to step in and pick up the slack. The Bolivian government proceeded to suspend LaMia's license on 1 December.
- "LaMia". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- André, Christopher (30 November 2016). "La historia del avión que se estrelló en Colombia" [The history of the plane that crashed in Colombia]. El Deber (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "En julio comienzan a llegar aeronaves de Lamia a Mérida" [In July, Lamia planes will begin to arrive in Mérida]. Diario Los Andes. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- González, Alexander (19 August 2014). "Chanchullo con aerolínea Lamia". Diario de los Andes. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- Maslen, Richard (4 August 2011). "New Airline: LAMIA Plans Relaunch in Venezuela". RoutesOnline. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "LaMia commences domestic Venezuelan operations". CH-Aviation. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Promesas fallidas, mudanzas y negocios oscuros detrás del único avión que volaba la empresa LAMIA" [Failed promises, moves and hidden deals behind the only plane flown by LAMIA]. Infobae (in Spanish). 29 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Navas, Vanessa (1 December 2016). "Lamia nunca obtuvo permiso para volar en Venezuela, asegura diputado Joaquín Aguilar" [Lamia never obtained permission to fly in Venezuela, says deputy Joaquín Aguilar]. El Cooperante. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Habló el dueño del avión de LAMIA: tomó distancia de la tragedia y le echó la culpa a "un rayo"" [The owner of the LAMIA plane speaks: he distanced himself from the tragedy and blamed it on "a lightning bolt"]. Infobae. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Navia, Roberto; Alanoca, Jesús (7 December 2016). "Fiscalía precinta naves de LaMia en hangar de FAB" [Prosecutors seal off LaMia planes in FAB [Bolivian Air Force] hangar]. El Deber. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- Navia, Roberto (29 November 2016). "LaMia es boliviana y uno de sus dueños falleció" [LaMia is Bolivian and one of its owners died]. El Deber (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 30 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Rojas Moreno, Fernando (17 April 2016). "Línea Lamia vuela en Bolivia y dos foráneas alistan incursión" [Lamia airline flies in Bolivia and two foreign carriers prepare market entry]. El Deber. Archived from the original on 10 December 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Alanoca, Jesús. "LaMia recibió certificado 'indefinido' en julio 2015" [LaMia received "indefinite" certificate in July 2015]. El Deber (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2 December 2016.
- "Aerolínea LAMIA Corporation se presenta en Paraguay" [Airline LAMIA Corporation presents itself in Paraguay]. Aeronáutica Paraguay (in Spanish). 20 September 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Chapecoense air crash: Bolivia suspends LaMia airline". BBC News. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
- Alanoca, Jesús (29 November 2016). "LaMia no está registrada en Ministerio de Trabajo" [LaMia is not registered with Labor Ministry]. El Deber. Archived from the original on 30 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Haines, Gavin (30 November 2016). "Colombia plane crash: What do we know about the airline?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Lamia, la pequeña aerolínea operada en Bolivia que protagonizó el trágico accidente del club de fútbol Chapecoense cerca de Medellín" [LaMia, the small airline operating in Bolivia that was involved in the tragic Chapecoense football club accident near Medellín]. BBC Mundo (in Spanish). 30 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Aprehenden al gerente de LaMia y a otros dos funcionarios" [Head of LaMia, two other officials arrested]. El Deber. 6 December 2016. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
- "Gerente de LaMia dice que renunció tres días antes de la tragedia" [LaMia head says he stepped down three days before the tragedy]. El Deber. 6 December 2016. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
- "Piloto del 'Chape' tenía orden de arresto de la Fuerza Aérea Boliviana" ['Chape' pilot had arrest warrant from the Bolivian Air Force]. Récord. EFE. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
- Barón, Francho (25 May 2017). "EXCLUSIVA: El avión del Chapecoense tenía el seguro suspendido y no podía volar a Colombia" [EXCLUSIVE: Chapecoense plane had suspended insurance and could not fly to Colombia]. CNN en Español (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- "ASN Aircraft accident Avro RJ.85 CP-2933 La Unión". Aviation Safety Network. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "LAMIA (Bolivia) Fleet Details and History". Planespotters.net. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
- "LAMIA (Venezuela) Fleet Details and History". Planespotters.net. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
- Unidad Investigativa (30 November 2016). "La aerolínea tuvo que acudir hasta a féretros prestados" [Airline even had to use loaned coffins]. El Tiempo (in Spanish). Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Colombia plane crash: Bolivia suspends airline that operated flight". The Guardian. Reuters. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
Media related to LaMia at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website (Bolivia) at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
- lamia.com.ve website (Venezuela), unchanged from 2011 to 2016 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 3, 2016)