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Aerolíneas Argentinas A340-200.

Aerolíneas Argentinas is Argentina's largest domestic and international airline. It carries around 80% of Argentina's domestic traffic and 40% of international flights from Ministro Pistarini International Airport, which is located in Ezeiza and serves Buenos Aires. The new expansion plan in the year 2004 includes the creation of subsidiaries in Chile, Uruguay, and Bolivia, as well as a hub at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which will allow the airline to become one of the biggest groups in Latin America.


Code Data

  • IATA Code: AR
  • ICAO Code: ARG
  • Callsign: Argentina

The Beginning

The company's history can be traced back to the year 1929, when carrier Aeroposta started 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 Mermoz and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry were among the company's first pilots.

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, FAMA, was created.

In 1949, all the above carriers merged under the name Aerolíneas Argentinas. By this time, Argentina still had no acceptable airport facilities; the government of Juan Peron erected Ministro Pistarini airport to this end.

Key to the airline's growth were Alfonso Aliaga García and Dirk Wessel Van Layden, who has been a pilot with French carrier Aeropostale (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 it did for a host of 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, Lima, Santa Cruz, and São Paulo.

The 1950s had arrived when the DC-6 arrived, 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, 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 Jose Guiraldes 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. In 1980, Aerolíneas Argentinas became the first airline to operate a trans-oceanic South Pacific flight, from Buenos Aires to Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia, using Boeing 747s. The route remains in operation.

Privatization and Near-Collapse

At the beginning of the 1990s the airline was sold by the Argentine government to the Spanish state-owned company Iberia as part of president Carlos Menem massive privatization program. Both the price paid by Iberia and the Spanish firm's ulterior conduct (including some convolute lease-back operations) were branded by some observers as evidence of corruption.

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 1.57 US$ each.

Aerolíneas Argentinas when Iberia adquired it, and when it sold it.

Item 1991 2001
Assets (without routes)650?
Annual Balance18-300
Debt0cc. 1000
Planes (owned/leased)28/11/43
Flight Simulators30
Number of Employees115006500

All amounts in millions of US dollars

Aerolíneas merged with Argentina's domestic carrier Austral.

By the late 1990s the airline was near bankruptcy. The Spanish government tried to sell its controlling share to American Airlines but the offer was declined.

In October 2001, control of both Aerolíneas Argentinas and Austral was handled to Air Comet, a consortium of the Spanish private carriers Spanair and Air Plus and travel operator Viajes Marsans, who acquired the 92.1% of shares.

After teetering on the brink of closure during most of 2001, combined with the adverse effects of the September 11 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 the airline resumed services almost immediately. Ever since, after a decade of consistently negative profit-and-loss statements, Aerolíneas seems to have recovered, and new investments (such as a new flight simulator) have been realized.


see full article Aerolíneas Argentinas destinations.

Aerolineas Argentinas serves local flights to different points in Argentina, as well as international flights to several countries in Latin America, to Europe (mainly Spain and Italy), to United States, New Zealand and Australia.


Today Aerolíneas Argentinas has a fleet of 56 planes:

Other facts of interest

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas has 2 Airbus A310, covering the south of Argentina and flights to Lima, Peru and the new route to Mexico City.

External links

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

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