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New PLUNA logo 2007.png
Founded 1936
Hubs Carrasco Int'l Airport
Focus cities Aeroparque Jorge Newbery
Punta del Este Airport
Member lounge Blue Lounge
Fleet size 7 (+8 orders)
Destinations 11
Parent company Government of Uruguay
Headquarters Montevideo, Uruguay
Key people Matías Campiani (General Manager)

PLUNA Líneas Aéreas Uruguayas S.A. (Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea) is Uruguay's national airline and is based in Montevideo. It operates scheduled services within South America and to Spain, as well as unscheduled cargo and charter services, with its main hub being Carrasco International Airport, Montevideo.[1]



An Old PLUNA poster. (1970s)
A PLUNA Bombardier CRJ900 in new livery. (2008)


The airline was established in September 1936 and started operations on November 20, 1936. It was formed by brothers Jorge and Alberto Márquez Vaesa, who had obtained the necessary financial and technical support through the ambassador of the United Kingdom to Uruguay at the time, Sir Eugen Millington-Drake. This gentleman writes in his memoirs that he suggested the airline be named using a memorable acronym, taking SABENA as an example. It was then decided on "PLUNA" which in Spanish stands for "First Uruguayan Air Navigation Lines". Millington-Drake knew De Havilland's representative in Buenos Aires at the time, which helped in the acquisition of the airline's first aircraft. The airline flew two De Havilland 5-passenger Dragonfly aircraft, from Montevideo to Salto and Paysandú.[2] The two planes were baptised Churrinche and San Alberto, the latter in honor of the brothers' father. PLUNA flew 2,600 passengers in their first fiscal year, a huge success for that era. It also flew 20,000 pieces of mail and 70,000 newspapers.


The 1940s saw PLUNA's expansion into the international field, with the airline's first regular service to Brazil in December, 1947, which linked the cities of Montevideo and Punta del Este with Porto Alegre, Brazil. This route was later extended to include São Paulo as well. Also added to PLUNA's network were Santa Cruz in Bolivia, as well as the Argentine destinations of Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba. The airline was nationalised in 1951. [2]

PLUNA fleet after the WWII included two DC-2 acquired from Panair do Brasil. This planes (CX-AEF and CX-AEG) were operated on the Montevideo/Paysandú/Salto route and were retired by 1951. In the same year, a Douglas DC-3 and four de Havilland Heron DH-114 were added to the fleet. The service of these planes with PLUNA was a short one and by 1957 they were sold to Eagle Aircraft Corp.

The DC-3 remained in service much longer and in 1971 the last four planes (CX-AFE "Salto", CX-AIJ"Paysandú", CX-AQC and CX-AGD"Rivera") were sold to the Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya.

The 24th June 1958 PLUNA entered the turbine age with the delivery of its first Vickers Viscount, the CX-AQN(C/N 321) purchased new from Vickers together with two other planes of the same model 769D (CX-AQO y CX-AQP). Later acquired from Alitalia two models 745D (CX-BHA y CX-BHB) and finally with VASP, three model Viscount 827 (CX-BIY, CX-BIZ y CX-BJA).

PLUNA's growth slowed considerably for the next three decades, but it entered the jet age soon after jets were introduced to the world, and added John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and Miami, Florida to its destinations, using Boeing 707 and Boeing 737 aircraft.


In the 1980s, PLUNA began flying to Madrid, Asunción, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago de Chile, but services to JFK and Miami were suspended. The city of Punta del Este, in Uruguay's southeast, flourished as a major tourist destination, and PLUNA benefited from that. During this time, an office was also opened in Tel Aviv, Israel.


The 1990s saw financial trouble loom for PLUNA, and in 1994 the government sold a 49% stake to a Varig-led consortium. Many people know the company as PLUNA-Varig. Nevertheless, PLUNA remains active with over 40 weekly flights from Montevideo's Carrasco International Airport, using Boeing 737, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 equipment.

Ownership of the airline until June 2005 comprised the Government of Uruguay (48%), Varig (49%), Victor Mesa (2%) and PLUNA's employees (1%). When Varig entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 11, 2005, it sought a bidder for its 49% stake in PLUNA. For almost a year, it looked as if it might go to Venezuela's state-run Conviasa, but the deal officially fell through in July 2006. In September 2006, the Uruguayan Government bought 98% of PLUNA, reducing VARIG's share to just 2%.

In January 4, 2007, the Government of Uruguay started negotiations to sell 75% of it shares to a private investors consortium from Germany, United States, Uruguay and Argentina called Leadgate Investment, that will invest US$177 million in the company. [3]

On October 30, 2007, PLUNA presented its new corporate image, developed by Australian design company Cato Partners. This new image is based on the interpretation of the name "Uruguay" as meaning "river of the painted birds" or "river of the colorful birds" (in spanish: "río de los pájaros pintados"). [4] Among other things, this change was motivated by the company's intention to distance itself from Varig's corporate image and to project a new, more youthful, warmer and sympathetic personality.


During 2008, seven brand new CRJ900 have arrived and are now flying for Pluna. This has led to an expansion of service to new destinations.

The full list of destinations (from Montevideo) is now, Punta del Este, Buenos Aires (both Aeroparque and Ezeiza), Rosario, Cordoba, Santiago de Chile, Asuncion, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba. Though Pluna has suspended its service to Madrid it code shares with Iberia on the route and also with American Airlines to Miami.[5]



The PLUNA fleet consists of the following aircraft (at 21 June 2009): [1]

Aircraft In
Orders Passengers Notes
Bombardier CRJ900 7 8 90 1 leased to AeroVIP

Accidents and incidents

As of June 2009, PLUNA has suffered 2 incidents and 1 accident with 10 fatalities. All of which involved hull-losses. The accidents and incidents were as followed; [6]

  • On 18 January 1946, a Douglas DC-2, registration CX-AEG, was destroyed and written off during a thunderstorm in Uruguay. [7]
  • On 9 October 1962, a Douglas C-47, registration CX-AGE, crashed during a final test flight. The crash occurred during take-off from Carrasco International Airport, when the right wing grazed the runway, bounced and burst the right tire, then bounced again causing the engine to smash into the ground at almost full throttle, then rolled over and coming to rest upside down. The crash resulted in the death of all 10 crew members onboard. [8]
  • On 11 May 1975, a Vickers Viscount, registration CX-AQO, crashes off the runway whilst landing at Jorge Newbery Airport, Buenos Aires, Argentina. All 57 passengers and crew survived the incident, but the aircraft was written off. [9]


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