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AeroCóndor

AeroCóndor was a Colombian airline.

History

Airlines from the Republic of Colombia have earned a reputation for producing some of the most imaginative and artistic liveries to have graced civil aviation. Private operator "AEROVIAS CONDOR DE COLOMBIA" was no exception.

Aerocondor Colombia was founded by Gustavo Lopez, Luis Donado, Eduardo Gonzalez, Juan B. Millon, Captain Julio Martin Florez, and Enrique Hanaberg ex Lansa and Avianca pilots in association with two businessmen who together perceived an opportunity to establish a new airline flying cargo from Colombia's northern industrial city of Barranquilla throughout the republic. Services commenced during October 1957 using Curtiss C-46 aircraft which were later complemented with Douglas DC-3s. Progressive expansion saw most of these aircraft later reconfigured for passenger services then DC-4 and DC-6 aircraft acquired during the early 1960s.

Boeing 720-123B of Aerocondor operating a passenger service to Miami International Airport in 1975

International services between Barranquilla and Miami commenced during 1963 and from April 1969 the company began re-equipping with Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprops which replaced their fleet of classic prop liners. Aerocondor entered the jet age during late 1972, purchasing an ex-American Airlines Boeing 720B passenger aircraft. A rare Canadair CC-106 Yukon was also acquired for freight services during 1972 and a second ex-American Airlines Boeing 720B was added to the fleet during 1974. Introduction of jetliners modernized the airline's image and enabled it to begin operating jet services to Aruba, Curaçao, Guatemala City, Santo Domingo, Panama, and Port-au-Prince whilst also increasing the frequency of its Miami services from Medellin, Bogotá, and Isla de San Andres. During 1975, financial control of Aerocondor passed from the company's foundation management to Jorge Barco Vargas, formerly an Aerocivil chairman and brother of a former president of the republic. A new orange and yellow colour scheme was applied to some aircraft, including the Boeing 720s, from 1975.

Further expansion during early 1976 saw the airline add three ex-American Airlines Boeing 707-120B's to the fleet. One of these aircraft was converted to a freighter and operated between Medellin and Miami in the lucrative flower export market. The airline began disposing of its L-188 Electras with two aircraft being sold to VARIG Brazilian Airlines whilst three others were retained for freight services. By this stage Aerocondor had grown to become Colombia's second international airline and was competing against the country's national flag carrier Avianca Colombia. In 1977 the airline entered the wide-body era when it acquired a factory fresh Airbus A300, named "Ciudad de Barranquilla" in honor of the company's port of origin. This was the first A-300 to be operated within the Latin American region, entering service on highly competitive routes to Miami. Plans for the introduction of a second A300 failed to materialize due to fiscal underachievement under the airline's new management. Aerocondor was again sold during 1979 to the Cotes and Calderon brothers and shortly afterward the financially strapped carrier entered a period of major crisis, due to poor control and internal corruption rather than market forces. The airline's A-300 was returned to its lessors and during May 1980 the company entered bankruptcy and ceased operations. Hope remained that services would be reinstated but negotiations between the pilots, liquidators and the Colombian government were unsuccessful. The airline's fleet of B707's and B720's remained grounded and were eventually stricken from the Colombian civil air register as the colorful identity of Aerocondor Colombia receded into civil aviation history.

Fleet

Aircraft used throughout the years were:

External links

  • Aviacol-Aviación 100% Colombiana
  • Airline History Website
  • Tribute Video
  • Colombia's Colorful Aerocondor
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