The names and numbers for future lowcost aviation in Argentina emerged from Wednesday’s public hearing – seven private airlines are bidding to run 503 regular flights (203 domestic and 300 international) while two other companies are seeking authorisation for ad hoc services. If given the green light, these proposals will link up 15 cities to commercial aviation, as well as extending international connections to 11 provinces.
The seven companies seeking to operate regular passenger flights are: Buenos Aires International Airlines; Grupo Lasa; Just Flight S.A.; Norwegian Air Argentina; Servicios Aéreos Patagónicos S.A.; Polar Lineas Aéreas; and Avian (the latter with an expanded proposal). The two candidates for unscheduled flights are Emprendimientos Aeronáuticos SA (SEA) and Argenjet.
The 11 provinces which stand to enjoy direct international connections are Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Mendoza, Salta, Tucumán, San Juan, Chaco, Jujuy and Neuquén.
Wednesday’s public hearing was the second in the series – the first at the end of 2016 resulted in 135 new routes being offered by five companies: Andes, American Jet, Alas del Sur, Avian and Flybondi.
Ministers Guillermo Dietrich (Transport) and Gustavo Santos (Tourism) were among the officials addressing the hearing, which was held at the La Ribera theatre in the Boca neighbourhood.
Dietrich criticised the strikes being staged by airline unions against the newcomers, holding travellers “hostage,” despite “the sustained growth and new records constantly being set by Aerolíneas Argentinas.” The minister also informed the hearing that the proposals of the seven airlines included the creation of some 5,000 jobs in total, as well as bringing “spectacular” investments into the country (US$ 23 billion over the next four years).
Dietrich further applauded the fact that all provinces were represented at the hearing despite the ongoing election campaign in a display of federalism across the political spectrum.
Finally, he described aviation as the safest form of travel since 7,000 people had died on Argentina’s roads last year but nobody in the air. By 2019 the number of passengers will have doubled from 2015, he said.
Santos described “connectivity” as vital for tourism in a huge country far from most of the world’s population. A rundown of the work underway to upgrade 12 airports nationwide was also given.