Aerolineas Argentinas is flying to China every third day in July, according to a press released by the South American carrier. While these trips are not commercial, they serve a greater purpose: fetching COVID-19 Sinopharm vaccines.
How many flights has Aerolíneas Argentinas done?
Aerolíneas Argentinas is currently carrying nearly 15% of the passengers it had domestically in June 2019. Internationally, the drop is even worse, at only 11%.
Argentina has almost completely closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has some of the most strict travel restrictions in the world.
To cope with the current lack of demand and serve as the State carrier it is, Aerolíneas Argentinas has been carrying vaccines.
Up to June 30, Argentina had received 26.8 million vaccines, mostly Sputnik V and Sinopharm. The country had received 42 cargo flights, mainly operated by Aerolíneas Argentinas (28), KLM (five), LATAM Cargo (four), Qatar Airways (two), and one from Lufthansa, Air Canada, and Aeromexico, each. In the last 14 days, Aerolíneas Argentinas has had five more flights.
The State carrier aims to have five more flights to China before July ends. It will bring up to eight million doses of the China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp vaccine.
Aerolíneas Argentinas almost do a world tour on each of its China flights. The carrier uses its A330-200 fleet to travel to Beijing. Both trips have a stopover at Madrid International Airport.
The State airline is extremely proud of the trips it has done over the last few months. Pablo Ceriani, Aerolíneas Argentinas CEO, recently said,
“This will be a record month in terms of vaccines that have arrived (into the country). That’s always a piece of great news because it allows us to think about an exit from this health crisis.”
Nevertheless, while it is impressive that Aerolineas Argentinas is flying to China every third day, the carrier still has a long way to go before recovering 100%.
Aerolíneas Argentinas long road ahead
Argentina has remained fiercely closed throughout the last year. Buenos Aires has opened and closed up on different occasions, giving local citizens a nightmarish headache. Currently, only Argentinians and residents can enter the country, but just 742 per day.
International organizations like IATA and ALTA have expressed their discomfort against Argentinian policies. Others that were supposed to have global events in the country have decided otherwise. That’s the Airport Council International (ACI) case, which was supposed to have its General Assembly in Buenos Aires later this year. ACI has decided to move the event and celebrate it in the Mexican Caribbean, Cancún.
As stated before, Aerolíneas Argentinas passenger numbers are still 85% below its pre-pandemic stats. In terms of capacity, the State carrier has slightly improved. According to Cirium’s database, the airline offers 72.9% fewer flights and 73.8% fewer seats than July 2019.
The airline still has to reactivate 23 different routes across its map and has 34 out of its 78 planes parked, according to planespotters.net.
Despite the challenges, Aerolíneas Argentinas has one advantage over its local competitors Flybondi and JetSmart. It is state-owned. Aerolíneas has guaranteed its survival from the COVID-19 crisis and, most likely, when the dust settles, it will have a domestic monopoly.
Daniel Martínez Garbuno is a Mexican journalist. He has specialized in the air industry working mainly for A21, a Mexican media outlet focused entirely on the aviation world. He has also published on other sites like Simple Flying, Roads & Kingdoms, Proceso, El Economista, Buzos de la Noticia, Contenido, and Notimex.