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July 22, 2024
How’s Argentina’s airline recovery going?

Photo: LAA5899 via Wikimedia Commons.

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In a recent internal communication, Fabián Lombardo, President of Aerolíneas Argentinas, alerted the airline’s employees to make “tough decisions” as the company faces an ongoing crisis. While the specifics of these upcoming measures were not disclosed, Lombardo was clear about the airline’s unresolved structural issues and significant operational deficit that have persisted for over a decade.  But labor is restless.

The company has not managed to resolve its structural problems and sustains a deep operational deficit,” stated Lombardo in the memo. He emphasized that in a time when many Argentinians are striving to advance, every cent funded by the state to keep Aerolíneas afloat is, and will continue to be, scrutinized.

This will compel all of us, and especially me, to make difficult decisions. You may not agree with many of them, but I want to assure you that I will make these decisions with the full weight of the responsibility they entail,” he added.

Recently, Aerolíneas has taken several steps to curb its financial bleeding. These measures include downsizing staff through voluntary retirements, cutting back on domestic and international routes, and reorganizing internal structures. Despite the lack of detail in the memo about the exact nature of the anticipated tough measures, these actions indicate a clear direction toward austerity.

Lombardo remains optimistic about the airline’s restructuring plan, projecting that these efforts will halve the operational deficit by 2024, potentially marking the best outcome in seven years. He noted the airline’s significant contributions to Argentina’s economic development and connectivity. Still, he cautioned against using these contributions as a rationale to overlook the need for accountability in efficiency and productivity.

As the high season approaches, Lombardo announced that Aerolíneas is gearing up for a record number of seat offerings, focusing on the most economically beneficial routes. “We are competing with top-tier companies and performing very well. The open skies policy does not concern us; on the contrary, it motivates us to continue improving,” he asserted.

Highlighting the dramatic changes in the aviation industry over the last decade, further accelerated post-pandemic, Lombardo called for an inward transformation within the company. “If we do not ask ourselves where we can improve, or what resources we can optimize, others will make those decisions for us,” he warned.

Lombardo concluded his message by urging employees to trust the information from their superiors and the company’s official communication channels. Moreover, he invited them to view this phase as an opportunity to leverage their experience and history to demonstrate why Aerolíneas Argentinas should continue to play a leading role in the nation’s economic and aeronautical development.

In line with adjustments and potential privatization driven by the government of Javier Milei, recent developments at Aerolíneas Argentinas include the cancellation of routes to Havana, Cuba, and Reconquista, Argentina. The company has temporarily suspended numerous national routes and delayed frequency increases in response to low seasonal demand and the absence of touristic incentives like PREVIAJE, which supported traveler movement between peak seasons from 2021 to 2023.

author avatar
Pablo Diaz
Pablo Diaz is an award-winning journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is also Editor In Chief of Aviacionline.com. Law, Engineering, and a pinch of science. When in doubt, trust evidence.

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