VASP was a Sao Paulo based Brasilian scheduled carrier which had been privatised in 1990 and under its new owner and president, Wagner Canhedo, had decided on an expansion push. It doubled its fleet using 737-300/400s and DC-10s and began international services, however by 1993 it was forced to return most of the aircraft due to failure to pay leasing fees. This didn't stop the airline though and in 1994 a second international expansion began using new MD-11s. VASP dreamed of creating a VASP Air System and the cornerstone of this policy was to buy into failing South American airlines and operate them together.
Accordingly in 1995 it acquired controlling interests in Lloyd Aereo Bolviano (LAB) of Bolivia, TAN of Argentina and Ecuatoriana. VASP acquired 49% of the non-flying Ecuadorian airline with a further 10% going to Ecuadorian investor Juan Eljuri Anton and the remainder staying with the Ecuadorian government. Opeations were restarted in 1996 using a trio of 727-200s (one ex-Northwest and two ex-Aerolineas Argentinas). VASP also acquired the old Ecuatoriana DC-10-30 HC-BKO and re-registered her as PP-SFB in May 1996.
VASP wet-leased Ecuatoriana's old DC-10 back to the airline so that international services to Miami and New York could be restarted, from June 1996, as the FAA had imposed operating restrictions on Ecuadorian airlines operating to the USA for safety reasons. The same trick was used to provide an A310 for Ecuatoriana also and this ex-TEA France / Sudan Airways frame became PP-SFH in November 1997.
Already by 1998 VASP had been overtaken in the domestic market by TAM whilst its owned fleet was old and its newer aircraft subject to leasing agreements in US dollars. The devaluation of the Brasilian Real in 1999 was a major blow and VASP was forced to suspend all international operations. VASP desperately retrenched to stay in business which meant cutting loose its loss making subsidiary companies. In November in an attempt to force Ecuatoriana to pay overdue management fees VASP took back the A310, which was its primary source of revenue. Ecuatoriana stopped operations with its own aircraft in December. Lan Chile began to operate for Ecuatoriana on Ecuatoriana's old routes and started its own Ecuadorian subsidiary Lan Ecuador. Without backers or its own aircraft there was no way back for Ecuatoriana, though its a little unclear exactly when the company ceased existing legally.
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: