- Aerolíneas Argentinas
Buenos Aires, Argentina
key_people=Enrique Meliá Soriano (
hubs=Ministro Pistarini Int'l Airport
Jorge Newbery |Domestic Airport
Aerolíneas Argentinas is the largest domestic and international
airlinein Argentinaand serves as Argentina's flag carrier. It accounts for around 83% of Argentina's domestic traffic and 52% of international flights from Ministro Pistarini International Airport, which is located in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires. Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN Airlinesare the only Latin American airlines that fly to Oceania.
The airline's history can be traced back to the year 1929, when carrier
Aeropostastarted operations. The Argentine government, recognizing Argentina's vast geographic size and the need for fast transportation links between the countryside and the larger cities, established an airline company to carry passengers and mail. The first two destinations served were Mendoza and Posadas. Frenchmen Jean Mermozand Antoine de Saint-Exupérywere among the company's first pilots.
By 1930, two more airlines,
LASOand LANE, began flights and the number of cities served by air routes in Argentina tripled. In 1945, these two airlines merged, becoming LADE(Líneas Aéreas del Estado, "i.e." State Airlines). This was a well-timed move, as World War IIwas entering its final stages and commercial aviation was set to start a stage of explosive growth. In 1946 the first Douglas DC-3s arrived in Argentina, and Argentina's first intercontinental airline, Flota Aerea Mercante Argentina (FAMA), was created. FAMA operated Avro Yorks on services to Europe.
In May 1949, all these carriers merged under the name Aerolíneas Argentinas. Operations started on 7 December 1950. At this time Argentina did not have suitable airport facilities, so the government of
Juan Perónbuilt Ministro Pistarini airport; General Juan Pistarini, after whom the facilities are named, designed and directed its construction. Key to the airline's growth were Alfonso Aliaga García, and Dirk Wessel Van Layden, who had been a pilot with French carrier Aéropostale (not to be confused with Aeroposta) and was influential in raising flying standards.The DC-3 proved to be an invaluable asset for Aerolíneas Argentinas, as for many other airlines worldwide. It enabled them to fly to domestic destinations that had, until then, been unreachable – and to keep flying FAMA's international routes. Soon afterwards, Douglas DC-4s joined the fleet and services were inaugurated to Santiago de Chile, Lima, Santa Cruz, and São Paulo.
The 1950s saw the arrival of the DC-6, allowing Aerolíneas Argentinas to fly at night for the first time. Thanks to this plane, the name of Aerolíneas Argentinas was seen at terminals in
New York's Idlewild airport, as well as Havana, Lisbon, London Heathrow, Dakar, and Rio de Janeiro. By the end of that decade, the Comet IV jet had begun commercial jet services worldwide, and Aerolíneas once again wanted to set the pace among South America's air companies. Airline President Juan José Güiraldespersuaded Argentina's President Arturo Frondizito buy six of the new planes, on the understanding that Aerolíneas would pay for the planes later. And so, on March 2, 1959, 'Tres Marías', which became the first jet airplane flown by Aerolíneas, landed at Ministro Pistarini International Airport.
With these jets, Aerolíneas Argentinas kept a steady growth during the 1960s, opening routes to
London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid. The 1970s saw the arrival of the Boeing 747s, 737s and 727s, and a stronger marketing strategy. Aerolíneas Argentinas was featured on many Jorge Porcelmovies at that time, and the began licensing toy companies to produce models of their aircraft, a practice it maintains today.
Privatization and near-collapse
On 27 December 1989 the government authorized the privatization of the airline and on 21 November 1990 Iberia acquired a 30% stake, subsequently increasing it to 83.5%. Continuing poor financial performance led Iberia to reduce its stake to 20%, which was transferred to a Spanish state holding company,
SEPI, and the company was reorganized as a subsidiary of Interinvest. In July 1998, American Airlinesacquired a 10% stake in Interinvest, giving it an 8.5% stake in Aerolíneas Argentinas. American has since disposed of the holding and Iberia then reduced its stake in Interinvest to 10%. Plans for employees to take an 85% share in 2000 never came to actualization.cite news | title= Directory: World Airlines | work= Flight International| page= 48 | date= 2007-03-27]
Allegations of corruption were made on the basis of the price paid by Iberia and the Spanish firm's ulterior conduct (including some convoluted lease-back operations), with the airline paying the price for its own purchase with its assets. Subsequent management by American Airlines and Spanish state owned conglomerate SEPI drove Aerolíneas Argentinas into an almost terminal crisis in 2001.
The planes and most real estate (both global headquarters and offices in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Rome and Frankfurt) were sold; some assets were leased back. The firm incurred massive debt, and operating profits were not realized. Iberia bought from Aerolíneas Argentinas two 10-year old Boeing 707 aircraft for the price of US$1.57 million eachFact|date=September 2008.
Aerolíneas Argentinas when Iberia acquired it, and when it sold it Fact|date=September 2008.
Even though Austral formed part of a consortium along with
IBERIAto buy Aerolíneas Argentinas, Austral's owner sold Cielos del Sur S.A. to IBERIA. The two airlines remained separate and never merged. By the late 1990s the airline was near bankruptcy; losses in 1999 where around 240 million US dollars. The Spanish government tried to sell its controlling share to American Airlinesbut the offer was declined.Fact|date=March 2008
In 2001 the airline filed for protection from creditors and parts of the business were sold off. Grupo Marsans acquired 92% in 2001 and committed to inject $50m capital with the intention of resuming long-haul services. This was realized on 6 November 2001 with a transatlantic service to Madrid.
In June 2001 flights to seven international destinations were suspended and the airline went into administration. In October 2001, control of both Aerolíneas Argentinas and Austral was handed to Air Comet, a consortium of the Spanish private carriers
Spanair, Air Plus Cometand travel operator Viajes Marsans, who acquired 92.1% of the shares.Fact|date=March 2008
After teetering on the brink of closure during most of 2001, combined with the adverse effects of the
September 11, 2001 attackson the industry and Argentina's financial meltdown of December 2001, Aerolíneas was forced to close down international services for a few days during early 2002. However, fresh capital was provided ($50 million from the Marsans Group) and the airline resumed services almost immediately. In 2002 the airline came out of administration after a Buenos Aires judge accepted its debt restructuring agreement with creditors.Fact|date=March 2008
The airline endured a pilot's strike during November 2005. After nine days of negotiations, the airline and its pilots struck a deal.
On 21 July 2008, the Argentine government took the airline back into state control after acquiring 99.4% of the share capital for an undisclosed price. The remaining 0.6% continues to be owned by the company's employees [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7519069.stm]
On 3 September 2008 Argentina's Senate approved the nationalization of Aerolíneas Argentinas and its subsidiary Austral Líneas Aéreas on a 46-21 vote in favor of the takeover. [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/09/04/business/LA-Argentina-Airline-Nationalization.php International Herald Tribune] ]
The Aerolíneas Argentinas fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of 29 August 2008) [http://www.ch-aviation.ch/aircraft.php?search=set&airline=AR&al_op=1] :
Aerolíneas Argentinas has a fleet with an average age of 19.4 years old (as of 29 August 2008) [http://www.airfleets.net/ageflotte/Aerolineas%20Argentinas.htm] .
The list only considers operative aircraft.Parent company Marsans ordered, in 2007, the following aircraft: 4 A380, 10 A350, 5 A330 (adding to the previous order for 12 aircraft), 12 A319, 25 A320 and 5 A321. It is still undisclosed how many of each type will join the Aerolíneas fleet.
On 12 October 2007, Grupo Marsans who controls Aerolíneas Argentinas, made a preliminary order for 73 various Airbus aircraft including the
A350and A380. [" [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/10/12/218385/grupo-marsans-orders-61-airbus-aircraft-including-a350s-a380s.html Grupo Marsans orders 61 Airbus aircraft, including A350s, A380s] " Flight Global, 12/10/07]
On August 13th, Aerolineas Argentinas change from Grupo Marsans to Argentinian Statement, with a Millionaire debt nearest of 900 millons dolars, and the company now operate his flights normally but, with non incorporations of the Grupo Marsans Aircrafts.
* 2 Airbus A320-200 LV-BNZ, LV-BOJ
Airbus A340-200LV-ZPJ, LV-ZPO, LV-ZPX, LV-ZRA
Airbus A340-300LV-BIT, LV-BMT
* 17 Boeing 737-200 LV-ZEC, LV-ZTE, LV-ZTT, LV-ZTX, LV-ZTY, LV-ZXB, LV-ZXC, LV-ZXH, LV-ZXP, LV-ZXU, LV-ZXV, LV-ZYG, LV-ZYI, LV-ZYN, LV-ZYY, LV-ZZD, LV-ZZI
* 17 Boeing 737-500 LV-AYE, LV-AYI, LV-AZU, LV-BAR, LV-BAT, LV-BAX, LV-BBN, LV-BBW, LV-BDD, LV-BDV, LV-BEO, LV-BIH, LV-BIM, LV-BIX, LV-BNM, LV-BNS, LV-BOT
* 3 Boeing 747-400 LV-BBU, LV-ALJ, LV-AXF
Plus the fleet of Austral Líneas Aéreas:
McDonnell DouglasMD-88: LV-VBX, LV-VBZ, LV-VCB, LV-VGB, LV-VGC, LV-BOA, LV-BOH, LV-BOR
McDonnell DouglasMD-83: LV-ARF, LV-AYD, LV-BAY, LV-BDE, LV-BDO, LV-BEG, LV-BGV, LV-BGZ, LV-BHH, LV-BHN, LV-VAG, LV-WGM, LV-WGN
McDonnell DouglasMD-81: LV-WFN
Accidents and incidents
On February 20, 1992,
shrimpcontaminated with cholerawas distributed on an Aerolíneas Argentinas Flight 386, a flight using a Boeing 747bound for Los Angeles from Buenos Aires, with a stop in Lima, Peru. The contaminated shrimp entered the aircraft in Lima. 76 passengers became ill after landing in Los Angeles. One of the ill passengers, a 70-year old man named Anibal Cufre " [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3D9133BF932A15751C0A964958260&n=Top/News/Health/Diseases,%20Conditions,%20and%20Health%20Topics/Cholera Cholera Kills One and Fells Many on Flight] ," " The New York Times"] , died of the illness [" [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1370/is_n6_v26/ai_12487853/pg_3 Contaminated Food Causes Flight Fatality] ," "FDA Consumer"] [" [http://www.airsafe.com/events/models/boeing.htm Fatal Boeing 747 Events] ," "Airsafe"] . Of the 336 passengers on the Lima to Los Angeles leg, the United States was the final destination for 297 of them. Two passengers selected Canada as their final destination, while 37 selected Japan as their final destination. The cholera on the contaminated food did not spread to other areas.
According to the
Aviation Safety Networkdatabase, the last accident with one of the company's aircraft with fatalities was in 1970.
Aviation Safety Network reports 42 accidents or incidents for Aerolíneas Argentinas since 1950. [ [http://aviation-safety.net/database/operator/airline.php?var=6813] Aviation Safety Network report for Aerolíneas Argentinas accidents or incidents]
*Aerolíneas Argentinas is the longest serving operator of the Boeing 737-200.
*In 2007 (first 747 entered service on January 6, 1977) Aerolíneas Argentinas celebrated 30 years of uninterrupted Boeing 747 operations. Of the few Latin American carriers to operate that aircraft, none operated as many as the Argentine flag carrier, or for so long. While older -200 models are being progressively phased-out, the acquisition of used -400s in 2004/5 gave the type a lease of life with the airline.
*Aerolíneas Argentinas along with
Surinam Airwaysand Aerosurare the only current operators of the Boeing 747 in Latin America.
* [http://www.aerolineas.com.ar Aerolíneas Argentinas]
* [http://www.salvemosaerolineas.com.ar Aerolíneas Argentinas workers' Union Site]
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