CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his government plans to buy new Embraer jets from Brazil as well as used Airbus jets to expand his country’s state airline Conviasa.
Chavez said Venezuela will negotiate credit with the Brazilian Development Bank to buy up to 20 Embraer jets from Brazil.
Chavez thanked Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff “for the credit they’re going to give us.” He said the estimated cost of 20 jets would be $814 million.
The Venezuelan government had said earlier this month that Chavez approved plans to buy six Embraer jets. But during Chavez’s Sunday television and radio program, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez laid out the options of buying either 10 or 20 Embraer jets.
“It’s enough to see Venezuela’s location on the map to conclude on the pressing need for us to have a very powerful airline,” Chavez said.
Chavez’s government has subsidized Conviasa since its launch in 2004. The president on Sunday did not provide information about how much the government has spent on the airline in recent years.
According to Conviasa’s website, it currently has a fleet of 18 planes. In addition to domestic routes, Conviasa has international flights to cities including Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Damascus, Syria, among others.
Chavez also said Venezuela will buy four used Airbus 340-500 jets from an airline in the United Arab Emirates at a cost of about $60 million per plane.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, a Chavez ally, has announced similar plans to expand his country’s state airline, Boliviana de Aviacion, or BoA.
Morales last month proposed to buy six Embraer 190 jets during a meeting with Rousseff in Caracas.