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LATAM Argentina fired its last plane, which is already in Chile

2021-05-18T13:09:51.898Z

It was the only company that presented sustained competition to Aerolineas in the domestic market. But after two years of heavy losses, the pandemic decided to close it.



Luis Ceriotto

05/16/2021 21:04

  • Clarín.com

  • Economy

Updated 05/16/2021 10:38 PM

This Sunday the

last plane

of the

Latam Argentina

fleet

took off from the Metropolitan

Airport

, thus completing the closure of the only airline that

competed against Aerolineas Argentinas, within the local market, for more than 15 years.

"LAN Argentina SA informs that, within the framework of the definitive cessation of operations announced on June 17, the company worked on the process of transferring those aircraft from its fleet that remained in Argentina," the company said in a statement.

In a discreet way, over the last 75 days,

nine

Latam

planes

with Argentine LV registration took off from

Ezeiza, Córdoba and the Aeroparque

to

Santiago de Chile

.

These are rather old equipment, with almost two decades of use (the one that left yesterday, license plate LV-BGI, is a

2002

model

), for which an almost certain destiny awaits as a

freighter

plane

. The company also clarified that it "

did not own

" any of these aircraft. But according to sources in the sector, each of the takeoffs to Santiago de Chile

were carried out with the maximum

possible

discretion

, to avoid

incidents

with the aeronautical unions.

Lan's arrival in Argentina was before its merger with TAM, when it was a company with only Chilean capital.

In March 2005, during the government of Néstor Kirchner, the Chilean airline

bought the flight permits of a local airline

, Aero2000, and together with the law firm

Pérez Alati and Benítes

formed the subsidiary Lan Argentina.

In a few years they positioned themselves with a competitor of Aerolineas Argentinas on routes to the interior, with which they captured approximately

20% of the local market

.

The company had a fleet of

13 Airbus A-320s

that made local and regional flights, as well as

three Boeing B767s that

flew from Ezeiza to Miami and also regional destinations.

During the government of

Cristina Kirchner

, after the nationalization of Aerolineas Argentinas, there was strong pressure against the company, both from the State and from the aeronautical unions. But they were years of good profitability and the company made legal presentations and even lobbied at the level of foreign ministries, to be able to continue operating in the country.

Paradoxically, it was with a more "friendly" government, that of Mauricio Macri, when LATAM

began its downsizing

: after the 2018 devaluation, the company

lost more than 260 million dollars

, only in 2018 and 2019. With the pandemic, it occurred the request for bankruptcy ("Chapter 11") from the LATAM group in the United States. And at noon on June 17, it was the announcement of the closure of LATAM Argentina.

In its presentation to the Ministry of Labor, the company claimed that as a result of the pandemic there was no horizon to continue operating in the country. And he accused Aerolineas Argentinas of unfair competition: according to LATAM, the state airline received from 2009 until then "subsidies equivalent to

5.5 billion dollars

." But throughout the 60 pages that that presentation extends, the company held responsible for its departure, mainly, the

aeronautical unions.

There were 68 measures that LATAM detailed that it tried to carry out to make its operation more profitable within the country. None of these initiatives proposed a salary reduction, or elimination of sources of work: in fact, the company's personnel were framed in the traditional aeronautical unions: APLA (pilots), AAA (Air navigators) and APA (ground personnel). But precisely this strong union incidence in the daily operation was generating a contrast against other subsidiaries of the group, which to this day remain active not only in

Chile

but also in

Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. 

"To date (the proposals to the unions) have only deserved

categorical rejections

, contributing to worsen the dramatic situation of LAN Argentina, prior to the final blow that today involves the pandemic and that make business continuity impossible," the company said in that presentation before the Ministry of Labor, last June.

Outside of LAN Argentina, the group maintains its international activity in the country and a structure of 300 employees that is support personnel and airports to attend the international operation (Lima, Santiago de Chile and São Paulo).

But eleven months after the announcement of its closure, out of

1,715 employees

only

193

remain

, who did not accept the voluntary retirement plans and are now asking the national State to take charge of their work destiny. What they are asking has a precedent: the

Lafsa

airline

, created by the Duhalde government and continued for the next six years by Néstor and Cristina, took over the almost 900 employees of the LAPA and Dinar streams. Lafsa was an airline without planes. Now, with LAN Argentina already liquidated, there are

almost 200 employees without a company

.

Source: clarin

All business articles on 2021-05-18

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