An Aerolineas Argentinas repatriation flight on May 6th suffered a hydraulic leak over the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft departed Buenos Aires en route to London-Heathrow with British nationals onboard. Unfortunately, due to the leak, the crew returned to Buenos Aires. The Airbus A330-200 landed safely just over 11 hours after departing Argentina.
The 11-hour flight to nowhere
The Airbus A330-200, registered as LV-GIF, flew AR-1130, departing Buenos Aires on May 5th. The aircraft was in the midst of its Atlantic crossing, northeast of Fortaleza in Brazil, according to the Aviation Herald. It was in that area that the crew decided to return to Buenos Aires due to the hydraulic leak.
The aircraft landed back in Buenos Aires just over 11 hours after takeoff. The plane was supposed to also bring back Argentinian residents from the UK back to Buenos Aires which meant delays for passengers on both sides of the Atlantic. Aerolineas Argentinas sourced a replacement aircraft, and, on the next day, a new Airbus A330 performed the roundtrip flight.
An 11-hour flight to nowhere is never fun. However, given the nature of this flight, it likely was a little more infuriating for passengers just trying to get home. The next day, May 6th, another Airbus A330 flew to London and landed safely.
LV-GIF is a three-year-old Airbus A330-200, according to data from Flightradar24. The aircraft is equipped with 24 seats in an angle-flat business class product. There are 248 seats in economy. A total of 10 A330-200s are part of the Argentinian flag carrier’s fleet.
Aerolineas Argentinas repatriation flights
Since March, the airline has run over 60 repatriation flights to bring 19,000 Argentinians home from cities like Miami, Madrid, Punta Cana, Cancun, Bogota, Quito, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Florianopolis, London, and Rome.
Interestingly, this London flight was the first Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Heathrow since a 2015 journey to the Rugby World Cup. Commercially, the airline has not flown to London since the 1990s.
In addition to these repatriation flights, Aerolineas Argentinas has been running flights to Shanghai via Auckland to bring back essential supplies to Argentina. These flights also use the airline’s Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Could Aerolineas Argentinas return to London?
The Argentinian flag carrier recently retired the Airbus A340, leaving its long-haul fleet with more fuel-efficient Airbus A330s. However, the location of the airline’s hub poses a bit of geographic problem. A flight to London can easily be around 13-14 hours meaning that Aerolineas Argentinas would need a minimum of two or three aircraft to operate this route alone depending on departure and arrival times. This would be an inefficient use of the fleet, which only consists of 10 aircraft.
However, in the current environment, it is unlikely that the airline will embark on any sort of long-haul expansion anytime soon. As some airlines shrink, there may be additional widebody aircraft available on the secondhand market that the carrier could acquire. But, the likelihood of Aerolineas Argentinas doing so is very slim. Currently, the only aircraft the airline has on order are Boeing 737 MAX planes.
Were you onboard this repatriation flight? What happened? Let us know in the comments!