Air Transport World

Is Latin America for sale? Smaller carriers, prohibited from pooling resources by national economic debt policies, brace for likely takeover by foreigners.

Is Latin America for sale?

Smaller carriers, prohibited from pooling resources by national economic debt policies, brace for likely takeover by foreigners. By Edvaldo Pereira Lima.

Rio de Janeiro--The 21st Latin American Air Transport International Association's (AITAL) Executive Committee and Presidents meeting unveiled one fundamental fact: The winds of change are blowing faster across Latin America since the 20th meeting last year in Guatemala City (ATW, 8/89), their swirling wake dismantling old established concepts, putting dramatic challenges before all carriers and sending some running for their lives. Only partial cooperation has been achieved by local airlines, because an overall unified response to the new times has not developed.

Among some of the major events since last year were the partial privatization of Mexicana, No. 1 in the region in passenger boardings with 8.5 million in 1989; the privatization of LanChile with SAS participation (ATW, 6/90); the Iberia-led consortium's winning bid for Aerolineas Argentinas and American Airlines' takeover of the Latin America routes formerly operated by Eastern. The Iberia deal now is in doubt (see News Briefs).

"The problem of all this fast-paced change is worrisome and has not been tackled in an organized way," said Ernesto Vasquez Rocha, AITAL executive director. "Many things happened here in the last few months but the local transport industry has not done much about them, as I have disclosed in my report for the strategy committee. Privatization programs were accomplished, bringing in alien interests. Globalization efforts by U.S. and European carriers have brought their strategies here."

As an example of a lack of quick response to current issues, Vasquez Rocha points to the discussion on placing airtransport activity under the umbrella of services to be ruled by the proposed General Agreement on Tariffs and Services, which would be a multilateral equivalent to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.