70 Years Of Aerolíneas Argentinas – How The South American Carrier Continues To Grow

This year was a milestone year for Aerolíneas Argentinas as it marked 70 years since it was born. The airline was founded in May 1949, when former Argentina President Juan Perón had merged various operations into a single state-owned company.

Aerolíneas ArgentinasAerolíneas Argentinas is its nation’s country’s flag carrier. Photo: Edgardo Gimenez Mazó via Wikimedia Commons

Before this move, the carrier had roots under the umbrella of Aéropostale, a French airmail carrier. However, the airline truly became an airline in its own right since trading under the moniker of Aerolíneas Argentinas.

Early expansion

The airline commenced operations in December 1950, with a weekly international service. This flight took an evening route from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt via Natal, Dakar, Lisbon, and Paris.

According to Seat Maestro, the Argentinian outfit expanded with flights to New York, Havana, Lisbon, and London. These routes were served by Aerolíneas Argentinas’ newly acquired Douglas DC-6 aircraft. By the end of its first decade, the jet engine was becoming increasingly popular across continents. Therefore, the outfit introduced its first jet, which was a Comet IV. This plane was affectionately named Tres Marías (Three Marias).

The development of jetliners was crucial to the company’s growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Subsequently, Boeing was chosen as the manufacturer to expand Aerolíneas Argentinas’ operations in Europe. Flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Zurich were served by new Boeing 727s, 737s, and 747s.

Aerolineas Argentinas DC4 atEZE 1958
An Aerolineas Argentinas DC4 in 1958. Photo: Edgardo E. Carbajal via Wikimedia Commons

Sour turn

However, things weren’t always so smooth for the South American firm. The Falklands War in 1982 had put a spanner in the works as it created tension between Argentina and the United Kingdom. As a result, the airline was prohibited to fly over UK airspace during this time.

Soon after, Aerolíneas Argentinas started to face financial difficulty, causing it to be partially sold. Iberia approached the carrier and purchased 85 percent of it in 1991. This partial acquisition by the Spanish company meant that Aerolíneas Argentinas was no longer fully state-owned.

Ten years later, there were further downfalls for the firm. It had to file for bankruptcy due to increasing debts. This meant that the unpaid salaries of the outfit had to be paid by the government of Argentina. Moreover, many key flights had to be halted, meaning only 10 percent of international services and 30 percent of domestic services were still active.

Aerolíneas Argentinas B737-200
An Aerolíneas Argentinas Boeing 737-200 with its 1990s livery. Photo: Markus Hening via Wikimedia Commons

Born again

The airline was saved by a cash injection by Marsans Group, which acquired a 92% stake. This move, therefore, brought the collapsed firm out of liquidation. Then, from 2004, the carrier was fighting again, growing its routes to Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Aerolineas Argentinas was nationalized once again in September 2008 when the Argentine Senate voted in favor of the move. Today, the flag carrier of Argentina serves 14.5 million passengers a year with its 44 Boeing 737s, 10 Airbus A330s, and two A340s. It uses these aircraft to serve its 50 domestic and international routes. The firm’s busy schedule helped it win the Best Major Airline in Latin America at the Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2019.

What are your thoughts on the journey of Aerolineas Argentinas? Let us know if you have any experiences with the airline in the comment section.

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Henrique Abreu Braga

Old planes, crew with very bad attitude and an unfair slot distribution of the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Central Buenos Aires.
That pretty much sums up Aerolíneas.

Fernando Díaz

The long range fleet is old and offers a poor product, both hard and soft wise. For shorter haul flights the fleet average age is a lot better, including that of sister company Austral LIneas Aéreas, that accouts for a good part of the domestic flights.

Matias

LOL. “The firm’s busy schedule helped it win the Best Major Airline in Latin America at the Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2019.” Um, no.