One of two landlocked countries in South America, Paraguay lies in the southwestern portion of the continent, bordered by Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. The country is heavily dependent on agricultural export for its economy, and particularly known for the cultivation of soybeans.
On the aviation front, Paraguay counts 15 airports, two of which have international certification, along with three airlines. The National Directorate of Civil Aeronautics is the governing body that regulates the country’s airspace and airport operations.
Acting as the main air-portal of Paraguay, Silvio Pettirossi International Airport is located in the Luque municipality and serves the capital city, Asunción. Furthermore, the airport is frequently used by residents of the nearby Argentinian city of Clorinda. It is named after aviation pioneer - Silvio Pettirossi, previously known as President Stroessner International Airport, after the former Paraguayan leader, General Alfredo Stroessner.
The airport sees the most traffic in Paraguay, having handled a total of 1.24 million passengers in 2019, and is also the hub for local airlines LATAM Paraguay and Paranair. It features a single 3,353m asphalt runway that is capable of accommodating long-haul aircraft.
Having seen little expansion since its construction in 1980, the airport received significant expansions in 2013 that increased its capacity to two million passengers per year. Whilst no new expansions are on the horizon it is estimated that Silvio Pettirossi International will reach its operational capacity by 2024.
The airport regularly sees traffic from such airlines as Aerolineas Argentinas, Amaszonas, LATAM Brasil, Paranair and Avianca.
The second notable airport in Paraguay is Guarani International and is located in the Minga Guazú serving Ciudad del Este. It was constructed in 1993, to replace the former Alejo García Airport in Ciudad del Este, which had been plotted too close to the urban center and deemed difficult to expand.
It has a single 3,400m asphalt runway that is fit to accommodate large aircraft.
Whilst it saw its peak traffic figures in the early 2000s, the airport has had a steady decline in passenger numbers, to the point where today it has no scheduled passenger services and sees solely private jet and cargo aircraft.
Paraguay’s flag carrier airline was established in 1962 as Líneas Aéreas Paraguayas, commencing operations a year later in 1963 offering domestic and regional flights. As it continued to expand it was privatised and owned by several enterprises including the Ecuadorian SAETA and Brazilian flyer - TAM Linhas Aéreas.
It took its current name in 2008 when it was bought by the LATAM Airlines group. Today, ownership of the airline is split between the LATAM Group, which owns 95% of its shares whilst the Paraguayan government holds the remaining 5%.
With a fleet of five A320-200 aircraft, the airline provides scheduled flights from its hub at Silvio Pettirossi International to Santiago, Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogota and Sao Paulo along with flights to the US that include New York, Miami and Orlando.
This airline was conceived as a joint venture between Air Nostrum and Amaszonas in 2015, first dubbed Amaszonas Paraguay. Its inaugural flight was held in September 2015 between Asunción to Ciudad del Este. Since its inception the airline has held its hub at Silvio Pettirossi International.
Three years later in 2018, it was announced that the airline would split from the Amaszonas Group, changing its name to Paranair. Ownership of the company was moved to the Spanish Inversiones en Lineas Aereas Internacionales and Canadian Avmax Group Inc., each holding a 50% stake in Paranair.
With a fleet of five Bombardier CRJ-100 aircraft, the airline serves regional destinations that include Buenos Aires, Lima and Montevideo.
Founded in May 2010, Sol del Paraguay began operations in July of the following year. The airline was formed as an extension to the company’s well known domestic and regional bus transport services. By the summer of 2012 it had ceased operations due to financial problems, but managed to resume flights that continue today.
Whist Sol del Paraguay had operated three Fokker F70 and F100 aircraft, currently the airline performs flights using a single Cessna 208B Grand Caravan airplane. It covers four domestic destinations namely Asunción, Ciudad del Este, Encarnacion and Pedro Juan Caballero.
Since Paraguay is not known as a significant touristic destination and struggles to nourish vibrant industrial and corporate sectors, its aviation network is moderate to say the least. Its two notable airports are practical, albeit seeing limited traffic whilst its airlines possess small fleets with few destinations. Unlike its leading South American example of Ecuador, in the case of Paraguay there is plenty of room for improvement.
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