Bolivia says LAN, TAM airlines no longer authorized to fly there

LA PAZ/SANTIAGO Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:49am IST

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LA PAZ/SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Bolivia's air transport regulator said on Saturday that units of LATAM Airlines Group LAN.SN LATM12.SA had lost their operating licenses to fly in the Andean country, although they could still file to extend or renew them.

Two units of the LATAM group, LAN and TAM-Mercosur, "are not authorized to continue providing service as of February 15," the regulator said. No reason was given in its statement.

A statement on LAN's website said the affected airlines would "formally seek to renew their licenses, with the objective of continuing to regularly operate their flights."

"Flights in which customers had already bought their tickets will operate normally and will not be affected by the resolution," LAN added.

LAN and TAM serve the Bolivian cities of Santa Cruz and La Paz, with direct flights from Iquique, Chile, Lima, Peru, and Asuncion, Paraguay. The site did not mention the number of flights affected.

Industry sources said earlier on Saturday that the carriers were still planning to provide service to Bolivia over the weekend as they had not been formally notified of the ruling.

LATAM Airlines, Latin America's largest carrier, is the product of the recent takeover by Chilean flagship airline LAN of Brazil's TAM.

(Reporting by Carlos A. Quiroga in La Paz and Anthony Esposito in Santiago; Editing by Terry Wade, Gunna Dickson and Peter Cooney)

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