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July 22, 2024

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Officials inked a cooperation agreement to enhance air connectivity between Argentina and Chile. The signing occurred during a high-level meeting at the San Martín Palace in Buenos Aires, attended by key transportation authorities from both nations.

Argentine Transport Secretary Franco Mogetta, Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, and Argentine Ambassador to Chile Jorge Faurie met with their Chilean counterparts to formalize the accord. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Mogetta and Martín Mackenna, the Secretary of Chile’s aviation authority, focusing on joint strategies to boost the aviation sector and international connectivity. This follows similar thinking between Brazil and Argentina.

This initiative is expected to broaden the regional aviation landscape and position Argentina as a potential hub for new airline companies while expanding market opportunities for Argentine airlines in Chile. The MoU addresses issues of mutual interest concerning air services with immediate and definitive effects.

Furthermore, an interim Air Services Agreement was initiated, subject to the respective constitutional procedures and the ratification of certain non-aviation clauses by specific regulatory bodies such as the Central Bank and Customs.

Ambassador José Antonio Viera Gallo and David Dueñas, Head of the Legal Department of Chile’s Civil Aviation Board (JAC), also represented Chile. Participants from Argentina included Hernán Gómez, Undersecretary of Air Transport; Gustavo Miguel Marón, National Administrator of Civil Aviation; and Diego Sebastián Idiart, representing the National Directorate of Air Transport.

Various stakeholders in the aviation industry, including airline representatives, airport operators, and ground-handling service providers, observed the meeting.

New pact, old claims

As Argentina swings in the ideological balance with the anxiety of a three-year-old, the new administration may be advancing on liberalization of the requirements for foreign operators to move aircraft and crew back and forth between the two countries.

Under Mauricio Macri’s tenure, legislation allowing interchange was signed, benefiting LATAM. The company could remove its Boeing 767s from Argentine registration and operate Buenos Aires – Miami flights with Chilean aircraft and crew.

As LATAM Argentina—the local branch of the holding—was closed during the pandemic, that benefit would impact JetSMART, the only carrier that currently holds AOCs in both countries. Nevertheless, some sources think the extended agreement will go beyond the aircraft registration perk.

Two contributing factors to that hypothesis are: first, the hurry to sign an interim agreement with immediate effect. This move shouldn’t be necessary if the central accord comprises only interchange, as the hassle it would be avoiding isn’t a big deal as JetSMART has been able to move planes across without much trouble.

The second factor is that the terms of the accords -the main Memorandum and the interim agreement- are being kept in relative secrecy. “If they are not changing major points in the bilateral, why there’s such mystery about it?“. The answer, for the time being, remains.

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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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