Air Transport World

Latin America/ Caribbean.(WORLD AIRLINE REPORT)

AEROLINEAS ARGENTINAS

aerolineas.com.ar

Owned 92% by Spain's Grupo Marsans, the airline controls an estimated 80% of the Argentine domestic market and operates 40% of the nation's international flights. Marsans last year finalized an agreement with Airbus to purchase 12 PW4000-powered A330-200s valued at $2 billion for delivery in 2008-09 and also has 10 options. They will replace 747-200s. Marsans President Gonzalo Pascual said the aircraft will "support our sustained growth in Latin America" but it is not clear how many are designated for Aerolineas, as some may be operated by Marsans subsidiary Air Plus Comet of Spain. Marsans additionally leased two A340-300s for delivery this year and BCI Aircraft Leasing leased three 737-500s to Aerolineas.

In an effort to expand service offerings, the carrier signed a codeshare agreement in March with Avianca under which passengers on its thrice-weekly flights to Bogota will be able to connect to Avianca's domestic services and vice versa.

Aerolineas has had to contend with challenging ATC conditions since the primary long-range radar for Buenos Aires was struck by lightning on March 1. Controllers have had to guide aircraft in manually; a leased replacement won't be installed until August, with a permanent fix coming later. Argentina's Airline Pilots Assn. claims that five near misses have occurred owing to the downed radar. Complicating matters is the ongoing transfer of ATC from military to civilian authority.

AEROMEXICO

aeromexico.com

Mexico's largest airline remains in flux under the control of state holding company Consorcio Aeromexico, formerly Cintra. The government,which owns a 60% stake in the holding firm, has been attempting to privatize the carrier for years but has been unable to find a buyer willing to pay what it considers a fair price. As of this writing, Jorge Nehme, controlling stakeholder in LCC startup Avolar that launched in 2005, claimed he was gathering a group of investors to make a bid for Aeromexico this summer.

Any new owner would inherit an increasingly difficult battle with a slew of new entrants that have created significant overcapacity in the market, Aeromexico CEO Andres Conesa told the ALTA Latin American Airline Leaders Forum late last year.

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Uncertainty about the future didn't stop the carrier from placing firm orders in November for two 787-8s and 10 737-700s collectively valued at more than $830 million. The 787s, to be delivered in 2011, are in addition to three the airline plans to lease from ILFC. The 737-700s, scheduled for delivery starting in early 2010,are in addition to six 737NGs already on order. …

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