Aerolíneas Argentinas is the largest domestic and international airline in Argentina and 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 Airlines are the only Latin American airlines that fly to Oceania.
By 1930, two more airlines, LASO and 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 II was 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 Perón built 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 Güiraldes persuaded Argentina's President Arturo Frondizi to 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 Porcel movies at that time, and the began licensing toy companies to produce models of their aircraft, a practice it maintains today.
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$1.57 million each.
Aerolíneas Argentinas when Iberia acquired it, and when it sold it .
|Assets (without routes, MM US$)||650||?|
|Annual Balance (MM US$)||18||-390|
|Debt (MM US$)||0||cc. 1000|
|Number of employees||11500||6500|
Even though Austral formed part of a consortium along with IBERIA to 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 Airlines but the offer was declined.
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 Comet and travel operator Viajes Marsans, who acquired 92.1% of the shares.
After teetering on the brink of closure during most of 2001, combined with the adverse effects of the September 11, 2001 attacks on 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.
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
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.
|Airbus A320-200||2||159 (16/143)||Domestic, South America|
|Airbus A340-211||4||249 (32/217)||Europe, Oceania, North America|
|Airbus A340-300||2||280 (32/248)||Europe, Oceania, North America ,Bogota|
|Boeing 737-200||17||108 (8/100)||Domestic, South America||Exit from Service: 2008-2009|
|Boeing 737-500||17||108 (8/100)||Domestic, South America|
|Boeing 747-400||3||421 (42/379)||Madrid|
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 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.
Plus the fleet of Austral Líneas Aéreas:
According to the Aviation Safety Network database, 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.