Visitors to Rivera, the largest of the six border cities in Uruguay where duty free sales are permitted, will soon be able to enjoy direct flights to the town’s airport from Montevideo’s Carrasco airport.

Amaszonas Uruguay, a subsidiary of the Bolivian airline Amaszonas, announced flights will start as soon as they receive delivery of a new turboprop aircraft expected in the coming months.

There have been no scheduled flights to the airport since the now defunct BQB Airlines gave up the route in December 2013.

This is welcome news for industry members who don’t have the luxury of chartering an airplane to get them to the border. Traditionally, travel to the border involves a six-hour bus ride from Montevideo, or a 12-hour overnight bus ride from Buenos Aires. (Editor’s note: Well-known duty free member John Gallagher is delighted with the news of the new route, claiming he often passed the time on the long bus ride with some help from an alcohol product he sold years ago.)

Siñeriz Shopping Mall

 

Bi-national airport study

Sources in Rivera also confirmed to The Latin American Report that Brazilian and Uruguayan officials continue to study the possibility of Rivera becoming a bi-national airport which could lead to the arrival of Brazilian domestic flights from Porto Alegre and even São Paolo.

Sales improving

Industry members in Uruguay told The Latin American Report that sales on the border enjoyed a solid year in 2017 with most retailers reporting double-digit growth on the back of increased visitor numbers and a relatively stable exchange rate for the Brazilian Real. The recovery is expected to continue in the first half of 2018 but a full recovery will depend on the results of the Brazilian presidential elections, scheduled for October 2018.