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The new Venezuelan state airline Conviasa, created with an initial investment 10 million U$, will begin its operations in January, with flights to South America and the Caribbean. Wilmar Castro, minister of Production and Commerce, announced that Conviasa would begin with flights to nations of the Andean Community, the Caribbean, and the South Cone (Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile) during the first half of January of 2005, with four rented 737-700 planes, manufactured by Boeing BA.N, a United States firm.

During a ceremony at the Air Force, president Hugo Chávez pointed out that, "with this airline, that will continue to grow within the country, in the Caribbean, in South America, and beyond, Venezuela once again has its national airline".

Conviasa, created to promote tourism, will be financed with surplus oil incomes. The former Venezuelan state airline, Viasa halted its operations in 1997 after it was privatized and sold to the Spanish transnational Iberia, that eventually closed all of its operations.

Castro pointed out that this new airline would begin flights to Europe as of June of 2005, with two Boeing 767, and added that Conviasa would form an initial fleet of twelve aircraft for domestic and international flights. The new Venezuelan national airline made its first presentation flight at the end of the celebration ceremony of the 84th anniversary of the Venezuelan Air Force.

Castro informed that the investment by the Venezuelan state for the activation of this airline would be gradually allocated, and that the first phase of equipment of the aircraft should conclude by the end of 2004. Conviasa will initiate its formal activities with a 48-employee payroll, including crews and mechanics. And as the airline begins full operation, this payroll is expected to increase to a total of 85 employees, with the inclusion of personnel for station maintenance and attention to the client. Castro also informed that the new company would generate direct and indirect employment through travel agencies.

Published in Quantum N.45