In 1925, the German community which resided in Bolivia along with its head engineer, Hans Grether, PhD., noted the vast territory in Bolivia and the lack of roads connecting the country. They took it upon themselves to donate an aircraft to the Bolivian government to establish what then became the first commercial air transport company in Bolivia, LAB.
The same year, in 1925, which marked the 100th anniversary of the Independence of the country of Bolivia, this group of engineers had a vision for the future of aviation within Bolivia. Guillermo Kyllmann, one of the driving forces behind the aviation project, makes the government, the general industry, national commerce, and the people of Bolivia aware of the need to create an official airline.
In July, of the same year, the first of the Junkers, model F-13 arrived. It was built completely with metal alloys, low wings, and powered by a single engine BMW IV with six cylinders and 300HP. Built for four passengers and two crewmembers with a cost of 12000 sterling pounds. It was named the "Oriente" This aircraft arrived accompanied by pilot, Willy Neuehoffer, who was sent by the manufacturers to serve as a full advisor during the entire assemble of the craft and to perform the test flights.
The first test flight took place on July 27, over the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. This was followed immediately after by even more flights and then as advertised, flights to Sucre, Potosi and Santa Cruz, Bolivia. After completing a total of 26 flights domestically which was equivalent to 4700 km or 30 hours and 45 minutes.
On August 2nd, 1925, Max Franz and Jose Rigol were the first passengers to pay Bs. 50.00 per ticket to fly over the city of Cochabamba for 20 minutes.. By the 5th of the same month, the first interstate flight to Sucre was launched, with a distance of approximately 195 km. This adventure was lead by Alberto Cornejo and Walter Jastran and Raul Pero the co-pilot. The flight lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes.
On August 16, President Bautista Saavedra and the Archbishop of Santa Cruz Daniel Rivero officially handed over the first aircraft to what was to become the future LAB and baptized it with the name of "Oriente". One month later, on September 15, 1925, during the afternoon hours, the National Chamber of Commerce, located on Socabaya Street in La Paz, with the presence of several government, industrial and commercial officials, members of parliament as well as senators, Guillermo Kyllman presented the project for the formal foundation of an air company with an authorized investment of Bs.1,000.000.00. This was with an equivalent of 10.000 stocks at Bs.100.00 each. This company would operate under a Board of Directors based in La Paz and with a Management office located in Cochabamba. It is here where Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB) was born with its primary intention to develop and nationalize an aviation service. A Board of Directors was formed, and on September 17, Guillermo Kyllman was elected as president of LAB because of his original enthusiasm to promote Bolivian Aviation.
On November 7, 1925, by a Supreme Resolution, the legal representation of the LAB Corporation was accomplished, thanks to the decisive assistance of Anibal Peña R., who was also a participant on the Board of Directors of the newly formed enterprise.
On February 25, 1926, the Bolivian government extended the initial flight period of the aircraft, to include more routes which forces the company to insure the hull and the engine of the airplane. At the same time LAB began to transport the Bolivian mail officially, free of charge and granted a 30 % discount to the President of the Country, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, chief officers of the various departments of Bolivia, Senators and members of parliament for costs when using the plane.
A second aircraft arrived to LAB on September 15, 1926, a time in which the country already showed an appreciation of air navigation and began to harvest the benefits of airline services.
On October 25, 1926, the government invested Bs. 150.000 in LAB stocks and on the 28th of October, 1926, the first flight to Trinidad was launched with the aircraft Beni II. Nearby towns were used by pilots as landmarks to indicate the progress of the flight and for marking their final destination.
On November 6, 1926, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano experienced a crash and loss of its craft, "Oriente", due to poor weather on route to Santa Cruz. Much to the surprise of LAB, the three passengers and two crewmembers on the flight emerge uninjured. Early in 1927, the aircraft "Oriente II" arrived to Bolivia and in April, 1928, three more aircrafts were purchased to initiate flights to Mamore. In the mean time, the Pilots and Mechanic’s School of Aviation ( from which the first Bolivian pilot Jorge Wilstermann Camacho graduated) was inaugurated and continued to educate participants until 1953.
Late in July, 1930, LAB initiated International service beginning with regular flights from La Paz, Bolivia to Corumbá, Brazil, Co-sharing with the Brazilian company "Sindicato Condor" and Corumba to Rio de Janeiro, turned out to be the shortest and best connections for European routes. In this way, LAB began to fly to different cities within South America. On May 14, 1941, by Legal Decree, LAB was nationalized. "Due to the unbearable financial situation of the Company" the government bought the stocks from private individuals at a fair price, thus transferring LAB into the hands of the country of Bolivia.
On June 6,1950, the net capital of LAB was increased to Bs. 50.000.000 offering 11.059 stocks for the government and 8.871 stocks for private individuals, leaving the majority of ownership for the Bolivian government.
In 1968, LAB obtained a credit line for the acquisition of a Jet Boeing 727-100 and various spare parts, as well as a second credit line to buy two Fairchild F-27. These acquisitions allowed the airline to develop an even more complete air communications system, to transport a greater quantity of passengers, and to deliver cargo. LAB also began flying non-stop to main cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago.
As years passed, LAB acquired more aircraft from the Boeing line, some being leased and others being purchased. This was accomplished in order to continue the development of the Bolivian Flag Carrier, LAB. Once again, relying on a credit line, LAB leased an Air Bus A-310.
In 1995, the Bolivian government found it convenient to put LAB stocks up for public auction in order to capitalize the company. The period of capitalization began with an international bidding where several other air companies attended and showed interest in the administration of the LAB company. The Brazilian company, Viacao Aereo de Sao Paulo, VASP, also privatized in 1990 by the entrepreneur Wagner Canhedo, was the one company that won the bid.
On December 1, 1995, LAB was handed over to VASP, which took over the management and direction of the company with the main offices in Cochabamba.
Later, a Components and Spare Parts Building was added, the Hangar was extended, an a Centralized Reservations System was set up (the 80010-300 direct information phone line). The Department of Civil Aeronautics of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing became the maintenance shop certifiers and qualified LAB to undertake maintenances of types D and C.
Coincidentally, the first Boeing 727-100, which arrived to the company in 1970 with registration CP-861, was the first aircraft to receive the D check service in the Hangars of LAB. This maintenance had been previously done in the United States and at a high cost. Now being able to effect these checks in Bolivia represented a great savings for the LAB company. Thus, LAB is the only air transporting company in the Pacto Andino (Andean Treaty), which is certified to perform this type of specific maintenance on the Boeing 727 aircrafts and at the same time is able and is authorized to provide this service to other airlines.
On September 15, 2000, LAB celebrated its 75th Diamond Anniversary. On this occasion, the Municipal Government of the Province of Cercado in Cochabamba and the Superintendent of the Department of Cochabamba awarded LAB the "Orden del Sol de Septiembre" (Order of the September Sun Award) and the Medal "Honor al Merito" (Honor of Merit) with the degree of Grand Cross, respectively, which are the highest honors able to be bestowed upon an airline by a Municipal Government. This was followed by a series of recognitions and awards by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Investment, the Ministries of Education, Culture and Sports, the Department of Civil Aeronautics, IATA, private institutions, the business sector, the National networks of media, and travel agencies.
On December, 2001, Engineer Ernesto R. Asbun, bought stocks from VASP. LAB returned, once again, into national proprietorship and continued its reputation as a private enterprise valuing more than ever, LAB’s human resources. LAB accomplishes an impeccable safety record with a new administrative vision which is dedicated to “excellence” in its service. New airplanes are incorporated into the fleet as well as new destinations and routes. New and improved advanced technology services are included at LAB.
Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, once again, becomes the Bolivian Ambassador in the skies of Latin America. Working diligently on the goals of the company has improved the company profile and the fiduciary strength of the company with its logo colors being the oldest in South America as well as holding the safest record on the continent.
In 2002, under the image of the "New Lloyd", LAB continues to grow and expand its routes, reestablishing a company pride and a new improved image of LAB as a Flagship Airline of Bolivia. These efforts have been translated into the increase of number of aircraft in the fleet of Boeing 727-200 aircraft in October, 2002, which will fulfill the need for "stand by" craft. When there is a need to substitute another aircraft for any reason, this need can now be accomplished.
In September, 2002, Lloyd celebrated its 77 years of uninterrupted service, being classified as the second oldest airline of the world.
In October, 2002, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, S.A inaugurated the International Center for Repair for Aircraft and Motors, thus beginning a maintenance service for foreign airlines. Avensa, of Venezuela, was the first airline to send a Boeing aircraft 727-200 passenger carrier to carry out a service check type C 3 in the hangars of LAB.
The fleet of LAB continues to grow. In November of 2004, a Boeing 767-300 ER - CP2425 was baptized “Madrileño”. This would be the first LAB aircraft to cover the route from Bolivia to Madrid. With this acquisition, LAB exemplified the solidarity and the union of its entire LAB team. They practice coordinated work and diligence and commitment with Bolivian airlines, LAB.
The incentive program of the Frequent Flyer of Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, S.A, “Lider Club", made its presentation in December of 2004. LAB also changed the process of information acquisition for the members of its flights implementing an on-line system of the latest technology which offers a quicker service and facilitates the automatic registration mileage for segments flown. With just the presentation of the member's card, either while making the reservation or at the moment the ticket is issued, service to the client is facilitated.
With the closing of the year of 2002, LAB has conserved more than 1.700 direct jobs and a further 20.000 indirect employments. LAB has 26 points of destination and 45 daily frequencies of flights, transporting around 1,300,000 passengers a year.
2003 was the year of consolidation for Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB), S.A. In February, the Company incorporated a second Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft, CP2426. This airship was baptized as the "Oriente", named after the first LAB aircraft back in 1925. In February, 22, 2004, LAB offers a new route to the North American city of Washington, DC, with a special flight. This became the only South American airline that possessed wings at this destination.
The same year LAB’s operations began with a new Boeing 727-200. The official presentation of this aircraft was carried out in the Hangar of LAB, where it was baptized with the name of "Andean Liberator".
Continuing with LAB’s planned expansion, in August of 2003, LAB is able to carry out its dream of flying to Europe, beginning with special flights to Madrid, Spain. There was a direct flight from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to Spain without stops and a flight duration of 10 hours and 30 minutes.
With the interest of the customer being foremost, this support was a substantial improvement in services. Because of LAB’s plan of continuous development, it inaugurated VIP Lounges called the "Elite CLUB". These lounges are located in the airports of La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
LAB reorganized its domestic routes reinitiated operations to Salta, Córdoba, Havana, Rio do Janeiro, Manaus and Arica.
In December of 2003, itofficially introduced to the public the new Cargo Aircraft carrier B 727-200 called, "Ekeko". This aircraft is dedicated to distribute regional loads of cargo to and from Bolivia.
As part of LAB’s corporate revamping, in 2004, LAB adopts, for the first time, a modern corporate image and structure. It uses as its primary logo color, the dark blue which represent stability and consistency of its aviation history, an the 79 year-old course of the company’s integrity, A contrasting tone of orange/coral is added for accent to represent warmth and congeniality. The new administration of LAB is making the company into a modern and renovated airline and with a well defined and clear vision of the future.
Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, has assumed commitments with their passengers and with Bolivia that are being honored which reaffirms that it is the best airline in the region.