IATA Wants Argentina To Reopen For International Air Traffic

Having a reliable flight schedule in Argentina is becoming harder and harder, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Argentinian government has tightened up international flights, and it is only allowing 1,000 passengers per day.

Aerolíneas Argentinas
Argentina only allows 1,000 international travelers per day. They all have to be Argentinians or residents in the country. Photo: Getty Images.

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What’s going on in Argentina?

At the end of June, the Argentinian government announced that it would only allow 600 international passengers per day. The measure sparked outrage from the airline industry in Latin America.

Since the announcement, not much has changed. The government eased a few measures, increasing to 742 international passengers per day during July’s second week. It is currently on 900 international passengers and, by July’s final week and August’s first, it will allow 1,000 international travelers.

Nevertheless, only Argentinian citizens and residents can enter the country. Argentina is not allowing international travelers until, at least, August 6, though it has been extending this deadline for quite some time now, so we expect to push it even further.

Worldwide, governments are setting up new travel restrictions to contain new COVID waves; for example, New Zealand recently scrapped its travel bubble with Australia.

Aerolineas Argentinas
IATA is deeply disappointed with Argentina’s travel restrictions. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

What is IATA saying?

IATA has been very vocal about Argentina’s closeness. In its latest statement, the airline association says it is deeply disappointed by the government’s decision.

Not allowing to reopen international air traffic “leaves citizens and residents stranded outside the country.” It also doesn’t take into account the industry’s needs to restart.

Peter Cerdá, IATA’s regional vice president in the Americas, said,

“Though the changes allow a minimum and gradual growth in the next few weeks, it is not enough to solve the issue of passengers stranded around the globe. Plus, the current deadline set on August 6 doesn’t allow airlines to confirm a flight date to its customers following that date. We continue without certainty and visibility on flight authorizations and capacities.”

Argentina is losing approximately US$5.91 billion in PIB contribution from the airline industry. Over 43,000 jobs are at risk, and the South American country is losing connectivity with 107 city pairs, said IATA.

In the last year, Buenos Aires has lost permanent connectivity with Auckland (New Zealand) and Doha (Qatar); Argentina has also temporarily lost flights with the UK, Brazil, and Chile. Furthermore, LATAM Argentina has ceased operations entirely.

Aerolíneas Argentinas
Aerolíneas Argentinas has deployed its long-haul capabilities in flights to China. Photo: Getty Images.

How’s Aerolíneas Argentinas handling the crisis?

Argentina has one almost-monopolistic airline in Aerolíneas Argentinas, the state carrier. According to data from the civil aviation authorities, it currently has 70% of the domestic market share. Flybondi, JetSmart, and American Jet are the other operators.

Moreover, Aerolíneas Argentinas passenger numbers are still 85% below its pre-pandemic stats. It is offering 72.9% fewer flights than July 2019 and still has to reactivate 23 different routes. According to ch-aviation, Aerolíneas has 33 out of its 78 aircraft parked.

While the international connectivity remains grounded, Aerolíneas Argentinas is flying to China. In July, the carrier is operating a cargo flight to China every third day, bringing back precious COVID-19 vaccines.

This month alone, the airline brought home 7.6 million vaccines onboard its Airbus A330 fleet.

What do you think about Argentina’s travel restrictions? Let us know in the comments below.