April 23, 2014
Aerolíneas Argentinas retakes NY route
Eighty percent of seats have already been occupied as airline fills void left by United
State-owned Aerolíneas Argentinas resumed its flights to New York City after a 5-year hiatus from the popular US route, with 80 percent of seats occupied for the remainder of the month.
Mariano Recalde, the company chief executive, called the first Aerolíneas flight since 2008 to John F. Kennedy airport “emblematic for the company and for Argentines.”
“We’re very happy: New York is the second-preferred city for Argentines who travel abroad,” he said.
The route, he confirmed, was already proving advantageous for the company with “very good reservation figures and seat occupation” so far. United Airles dropped its non-stop JFK-EZE flight last September, claiming lack of profitability, which some critics considered a likely outcomes for Aerolíneas as well.
However, a source from the company yesterday confirmed to the Herald that around 80 percent of seats to New York had been occupied for the month of December.
The company had not flown to New York since the route was cancelled under the private management of Grupo Marsans, the now defunct Spanish consortium which operated the airline from 2001 to 2008.
“Aerolíneas didn’t fly (to New York) since the private era, when that route was closed. Only recently have we been able to regain it, with new planes, a new airport and a new terminal,” Recalde added.
Flights to New York will depart Ezeiza International Airport at night with the Airbus 330-200, distributed into two classes.
Meanwhile, Recalde yesterday took the opportunity to reiterate the company’s committment to domestic tourism as Argentine citizens adapt to recent currency controls which make the purchase of foreign currencies for overseas holidays difficult, forcing many to travel locally.
“We continue to be committed to seeing Argentines travel around our country. We continue to put a lot of effort into domestic flights and tourism routes across the country,” he said. “But Aerolíneas is also a company that flies internationally and we can’t be absent from New York.”
New York forms part of a range of strategic changes for the state-owned national carrier.
The company announced in November that it would discontinue offering services on the Sydney-Buenos Aires route, leaving the Chilean company LAN and its alliance partner Qantas the sole players in that market.
The company has not yet indicated when this would take place, but the source from the company confirmed to the Herald that flights to Sydney will in fact end in April next year.
In the meantime, Aerolíneas is expanding its services to a number of established destinations.
It currently has one daily flight to Europe, which takes passengers to Madrid.
But it plans to expand its current Rome and Barcelona routes to a frequency of one flight per day, the source at the company told the Herald.
Recalde, for his part, yesterday took a similar line, confirming that Aerolíneas planned to “increase its flight frequency to Rome, Barcelona” while starting off “strong with New York and with new destinations in Brazil: Curitiba in March and Belo Horizonte and Brasilia, where we’ve already been flying and where no doubt as of June with the World Cup we’ll see a lot of seat occupation.”
The Aerolíneas chief also indicated that the company next year intended to obtain an additional 8 aircrafts on top of the 67 it will have by the end of this year, which include the two new aircrafts the company introduced last week: the Boeing 737-800 for domestic routes and the Airbus 330-200 for international flights.