Argentina’s Decision To Close Skies Until September Could Do More Harm Than Good

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) are worried about Argentina’s decision to close its airspace until September. They say it could do more harm than good, hoping no other countries follow in its steps. Let’s investigate further. 

Aerolíneas Argentinas
Argentina’s decision to close its borders is dangerous, experts say. Photo: airbus777 via Flickr.

We didn’t see it coming: ALTA

Last week, the Argentinian Government issued a decree banning all commercial flights in the country until 1 September 2020. This decision came as an ugly surprise for both IATA and ALTA. 

“There’s no scientific evidence to support its decision to close Argentina,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA’s regional vice president for the Americas. Additionally, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ALTA’s CEO, said the measure is disproportional for the reality in Argentina. 

“Argentina is in lockdown until 10 May. Why did they decide to close the commercial aviation until September? It is an unparalleled decision,” he said in an interview with Simple Flying. 

De Oliveira added that ALTA, IATA, and other organizations created a task force in the region. The objective of this task force is to unify the different Government perspectives to make cohesive decisions in Latin America. The same day Argentina issued its decree, the task force reunited. The task force says it was surprised by the unilateral decision made by the Argentian government.

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Argentina banned all commercial airline activities until 1 September 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

Over a billion USD is at risk: IATA

In a joint statement, IATA, ALTA, and Airports Council International (ACI) urged the Argentinian authorities to consider the risks of its measures. The aviation value chain, connectivity, and the airports in the country are at considerable risk, they said. 

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“If the industry doesn’t resume operations before September, an extra billion dollars of revenue will be lost,” said Cerdá. Additionally, the decision endangers a further 5,000 jobs and US$400 million of the Argentinian GDP, said IATA. 

ALTA estimates that 10% of Argentina’s GDP is in danger as well as 9.4% of the overall job market in the country. 

Luis Felipe de Oliveira hopes that no other country in the region follows the Argentinian initiative. Worldwide, Argentina is the only country to have banned its commercial aviation activities deep into the third quarter of 2020. French president, Emmanuel Macron, said it could happen in Europe but this has yet to happen. And hopefully, it won’t. 

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ALTA’s CEO predicts that if more countries follow Argentina’s footsteps, Latin America will go back in time approximately 30 years. 

“We would be back into a time when it was costly to fly in Latin America. To go back 30 years would mean a lot of people wouldn’t be able to fly in the region,” he said. Additionally, Argentina is already feeling the pressure of closing its borders until September.

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Air New Zealand has scrapped its flight to Buenos Aires. Photo: Getty Images.

Airlines will stop flying into Argentina

The same day Air New Zealand postponed its non-stop New York flights, the airline also scrapped its flights to Argentina. For Peter Cerdá, this action is a preview of things to come.

“We don’t want this to happen: we don’t want Argentina to stay behind the rest of the region during the reactivation phase,” he said. 

Within the Argentinian domestic market, low-cost carriers could suffer the most. To a lesser extent, other airlines such as LATAM Argentina and Aerolíneas Argentinas would, of course, suffer as well. Moreover, international carriers would be more hesitant to fly into the country. Last year, American Airlines reaffirmed its confidence in South America, but that could change. 

“American Airlines had four or five daily flights to Argentina. Now it is having problems because it has the uncertainty of the Government and a group of employees based in the country. It is afraid the crisis in Argentina will be deep,” De Oliveira added.

What do you think of Argentina’s future? Let us know in the comments.

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