Aerolineas Argentinas Celebrates 70th Anniversary With Retrojets

Aerolineas Argentinas is turning 70 in 2020. What should have been a more extensive celebration has become a quiet party due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Argentinian carrier has not been able to operate commercial flights since March. Nevertheless, it is bringing back some retro liveries to commemorate its history. Let’s investigate further.

Aerolineas Argentinas Celebrates 70th Anniversary With Retrojets
Aerolíneas Argentinas is turning 70 years old in 2020. Photo: Getty Images

What does the Pope, the World Cup, and Aerolíneas Argentinas have in common?

The Argentinian state carrier chose a Boeing 737-700 to be retrofitted. To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Aerolíneas Argentinas launched a small introductory video, with more coming in the next few weeks. The acclaimed Argentinian writer Eduardo Galeano wrote the script.

“There’s only one place where yesterday and tomorrow meet, recognize and hug each other. That place is tomorrow,” Galeano wrote. In the meantime, we can see a B737-700 entering the hangars of FADEA (which stands for Argentinian Factory of Airplanes in Spanish).

Aerolíneas is looking at the glorious days of old with the retrofit of its B737-700. It is bringing back the livery the airline had in the 80s.

The old livery is best remembered for three details. First, in the 80s, Aerolíneas Argentinas had a fleet of 17 Boeing 747s. It was the first Latin American airline to have the Queen of the Skies in its fleet.

Second, the Argentinian people remember the 80s liveries because, in one of these planes, Aerolíneas brought back the Argentinian soccer squad after winning the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City. Finally, the airline also brought to Buenos Aires the late Pope John Paul II in 1982 in the midst of the Falklands War.

Looking back at the days when Aerolíneas had a 747 fleet

Currently, Aerolíneas Argentinas has a fleet of 54 aircraft. It is composed of ten Airbus A330 and 44 Boeing 737, including four Boeing 737 MAX. Nevertheless, the State company has seen better days.

In the 70s, the carrier bought its firsts Boeing 747 planes. One of the milestones of Aerolíneas Argentinas was that it flew the first transpolar flight ever.

It was on 7 June 1980. Hilario Valinotti was the pilot commanding the flight AR-1880 on a Boeing 747 registered as LV-MLR. The flight departed from Buenos Aires and landed a few hours later in the city of Río Gallegos in the far south of the country. It refueled there and crossed the South Pole before landing in Auckland, New Zealand.

In 1984, Aerolíneas Argentinas officially established a route between Buenos Aires and Auckland. The carrier pioneered on flights between Latin America and Oceania. By 1986, the load factor of the Buenos Aires-Auckland flight (which happened every two weeks) was 59%.

Aerolíneas Argentinas 747
Aerolíneas Argentinas had a Boeing 747 fleet during the 1980’s. Photo: Carlos Delgado, CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

How was it flying the ‘most boring route in the world’?

Despite the challenges of making this route profitable, Aerolíneas Argentinas kept it for a few years. In 1988, the airline extended the flying time by arriving in Sydney via a codeshare agreement with Qantas.

Nevertheless, some Argentinian pilots said the Buenos Aires-Auckland route was the most boring flight in the world. Why? Because there were no turbulences and zero traffic, meaning they encountered no one during the flying time. Also, ATC communications were scarce. The pilots talked with controllers in Punta Arenas, Chile, and then with people at either Chatham Island or Christchurch, New Zealand.

Aerolíneas finally suspended the route in January 2014, after deciding that it was no longer profitable.

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Bring back the memories

In 2020, Aerolíneas Argentinas is bringing back these memories by retrofitting one of its Boeing 737-700. The airline said,

“[Retrofitting] is something that the leading airlines in the world do because it is a way to show the company’s everlasting presence throughout the years, which is not very often.” 

In 2019, Avianca commemorated its 100 anniversary with an Airbus A320 retrofitted with a 1950’s livery. British Airways also did something similar with its now gone Boeing 747 fleet.

What do you think of Aerolíneas Argentinas’ history? Let us know in the comments.