Almost immediately the new Peruvian flag carrier had financial problems due to an issue that would continue to dog it for its entire existence - competition from US airlines. Initially this was Braniff International. AeroPerú was operating only a daily service to Miami whereas Braniff was operating a whopping 34 weekly flights. The Peruvian military government had a long standing beef with multinational companies operating in Peru and in February 1975 ordered Braniff to cut its weekly flights to 16. Gen. Rolando Gilardi Rodriquez, the Peruvian Minister of Aeronautics, responded with a public threat to prevent any United States airline from flying into Peru if Aeroperu flights to the United States are suspended. General Gilardi said
“We will not permit ourselves to be submitted to this type of colonialist pressure,”
Negotiations involved Braniff offering to sell AeroPerú Braniff tickets at cost for it to sell at a profit, and access to its computerised sales system, but both of these offers were rejected. On the Peruvian side the US State Department refused AeroPerú the routes and landing rights it wanted. The stalemate was not resolved and Braniff was forced to cutback its services. This didn't cut to the core of the issue however and Braniff simply revamped its schedule to offer more non-stop flights on the route and increase capacity. As a Braniff executive said:
“We are in the middle. We don't like the cutbacks here, but we can live with them, Actually, we don't care how many routes or frequencies the Peruvians get to the United States because we are confident of our ability to get the traffic.”
It would be a problem that would continue to dog AeroPerú after Braniff was gone as Eastern and then American Airlines took their place.
Nevertheless the network grew quickly with the addition of services to Panama, Bogotá, Mexico, Caracas, Guayaquil, Quito, La Paz, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The fleet was augmented with a leased KLM DC-8 in 1975 and then a complete rollover of the DC-8s in July 1976 when all three aircraft were replaced by three DC-8-51s leased from Air Jamaica.
Despite its issues with the US airlines by 1978 AeroPerú was serving not just Miami but also Los Angeles (since 1975) and New York (since 1977). A second 727 (an ex-Lufthansa 727-30C) was added in 1978, as well as a DC-8 freighter.
Sadly the DC-8-43F, registered as OB-R1143 and named 'San Martín de Porres', was destroyed on August 1, 1980 on approach to Mexico City. The aircraft was operating a scheduled cargo service between Lima and Mexico City carrying a load of fertiliser and animal feed. Its arrival in Mexico was in darkness and this no doubt contributed to the accident as the flightcrew misunderstood instructions from the control tower and descended too low. The aircraft impacted the mountains 18 miles from the airport, destroying the aircraft and killing the 7 crew.
1978 was a watershed year for the airline as it received its first widebodies and also became the first airline in South America to operate the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar. Initially AeroPerú was sold on new Tristars by Lockheed and ordered a short Tristar 500, with another on option, for delivery in 1981.
Davies. R.E.G. Airlines of the Jet Age: A History
Evanich III, John. Lost Schemes: #202 AeroPeru Lockheed L-1011 (1979-81). AirlinerCafe
Braniff Is Ordered By Peru to Reduce Flights From Lima. New York Times. 1975
Maidenberg, H.J. Air War Over Latin America. New York Times. 1976
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: