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HomeTravelArgentina rolls out aviation reform in bid to bring in foreign airlines...

Argentina rolls out aviation reform in bid to bring in foreign airlines – ET TravelWorld

<p>FILE - A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 passenger jet flies over the central United States heading for Chicago from Tulsa, Okla., June 15, 2024, in Tulsa. A Southwest Airlines jet that was damaged after experiencing an unusual “>
FILE – A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 passenger jet flies over the central United States heading for Chicago from Tulsa, Okla., June 15, 2024, in Tulsa. A Southwest Airlines jet that was damaged after experiencing an unusual “Dutch roll” during a flight is back in service. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

The Argentine government published a sweeping decree on Wednesday aimed at opening up the country’s aviation sector, inviting foreign airlines to enter the market long dominated by state-run carrier Aerolineas Argentinas.

The reform should boost the number of routes, flight frequencies and bring in more competitors, the transportation secretariat said in a statement.

Carriers can now petition to operate as many routes and frequencies as they want, subject to safety approval, according to the decree.

The administration of libertarian President Javier Milei, who took office in December, has tied up a number of “open-skies agreements” with other countries in recent months, allowing their airlines to operate domestic routes in Argentina under some conditions.

Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Uruguay and Canada have all signed agreements so far, potentially opening up the Argentine market to carriers from Gol to LATAM to Air Canada.

The transportation secretariat said on Wednesday that more such agreements should be signed in coming months.

Aerolineas Argentinas operated 62 per cent of domestic flights in May, according to the most recent regulator data available. Trailing behind it were local low-cost airline Flybondi with 26 per cent of the domestic market and Chilean carrier Jetsmart with 11 per cent .

Regional airports found wind beneath their wings in FY24

Pantnagar airport, which opened in 2019, saw a 55.8 per cent rise in passenger count to 110,824. Shillong wasn’t far behind, seeing an over 40 per cent rise in air traveller numbers from FY23 on the back of some of the lowest fares in the Northeast. Data from online travel aggregator ixigo showed that air fares for Guwahati and Dimapur start at just INR 400.

The state-run carrier’s future remains uncertain as Milei has previously said he will privatize the airline. However, a bid to do so was scrapped from an omnibus reform bill passed by Congress last month. Milei’s spokesman, Manuel Adorni, said in an interview published last week by a local outlet that the government may try to make some state-run companies, such as Aerolineas, more profitable before looking to privatize them or seek out a buyer.

Last year, Aerolineas turned a USD 32 million net profit, according to the company.

Unions have heavily criticized the industry reforms, arguing that the government is hurting Aerolineas’ operations and employees in order to bring in low-cost competitors.

Aerolineas has cut some frequencies and trimmed its workforce in recent months, according to the unions.

  • Published On Jul 10, 2024 at 09:43 PM IST

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