Since 2009, Peruvian Airlines has offered low-cost flights between Lima‘s Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) to seven popular tourist destinations: Arequipa, Cusco, Iquitos, Ilo, Piura, Tacna, and Tumbes. This past August 18, however, the Peruvian government shut down the airline due to noncompliance with air safety regulations, including maintenance problems discovered after an emergency landing on August 2.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief Ramon Gamarra says the decision was based on “a deterioration of their technical ability, which allows it to meet safety standards.” The airline had been monitored since April 25, when an airplane had severe problems taking off from the Cuzco airport.
Peruvian Airlines officials replied that “the observations were on purely administrative issues that did not warrant suspending the company’s flights.”
Travelers, both Peruvian and international, were stranded all over the country. Although other domestic carriers took up some of the slack, the Peruvian military was forced to fly scores of tourists from Cuzco to Lima so they could make their international connections. Stranded travelers, severe delays, and overbooked airplanes and buses have plagued Peru’s top destinations since.
The shutdown may (coincidentally) pave the way for a new set of wings. Peru has been without a national carrier since 1999, when AeroPerú (a subsidiary of AeroMéxico) went bankrupt. New President Ollanta Humala, sworn in this past July 28, had already discussed the creation of a new flagship airline. An extended shutdown could conceivably create a vacuum that would help catalyze the proposed project.
In the meantime, travelers planning to take internal flights while in Peru should make reservations well in advance on other carriers, which are already overbooked. It might even be worth waiting to purchase tickets on Peruvian Airlines until after November 18, when the airline should be cleared for takeoff. These days, you just never know.