December 12, 2013
'We asked for the hangar, but we never said they had to stop flying'
LATAM Airlines Group, the biggest carrier in Latin America, is stirring popular sentiment against Argentina, the country's airport regulator said today.
The seizure of a hangar at the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery from local unit LAN Argentina is part of a campaign to damage the airline in the country, LATAM Vice President Enrique Cueto said late last night.
Argentine regulators have given LAN until the end of the month to vacate the Aeroparque hangar where it maintains a dozen Airbus A320s which fly on 14 domestic routes in the country. The airline has said the demand threatens its operations in Argentina, sparking warnings from an airport workers' union that the regulators were endangering jobs.
"We asked for the hangar, but we never said they had to stop flying. LAN said that to generate alarm among passengers, unions and the rest of society," Gustavo Lipovich, the head of airport regulator ORSNA, told a state news agency today.
The dispute has triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity between Argentina and neighboring Chile, home of the airline's major shareholders, which once included Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.