Air Transport World

A fresh breeze on the pampas: Southern Winds shakes up Argentina.(Profile)(Company Profile)

If you ask Southern Winds President Juan Maggio to describe the business model of the airline he launched in 1996, he will say that it bears a similarity to a somewhat younger and better known carrier, JetBlue, in terms of its approach to operating costs and fares.

But Southern Winds also marches to its own drummer, as is clear from the ways in which it has transformed itself over the past seven years. Now a full-fledged trunk carrier operating to nine Argentine cities and three international destinations, SW, as it is known locally, actually began operations with an entirely different business model.

Although the privately owned company does not provide financial results, Maggio says it was profitable through 2001--until the onset of the country's current economic crisis that has devastated the nation and its industry.

The origins and early history of Southern Winds are tied closely to the economic liberalization that came to the airline sector in the 1990s. At the time, Maggio was a planning director at privately owned LAPA and it was there that he came to understand the opportunity offered by the advent of the regional jet to shake up Argentina's staid domestic industry. …

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