Thursday, November 29, 2007

Argentina's Iffy Skies

According to today's Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina's four domestic commercial airlines (Aerolíneas Argentinas, LAN Argentina, Andes Líneas Aéreas, and Sol) operate a total of only 48 planes today, compared to 89 in 1998 (Aerolíneas is the only survivor from that time). While the airlines carried 6.5 million passengers in 1998, that annual figure has fallen to about 5.1 million despite a travel and tourism boom following the 2002 devaluation. By their estimates, services in the Patagonia region, a favorite with foreign tourists, fall about 25 percent short of satisfying demand.

The airlines argue that government price controls have limited investment in new equipment. Whether or not they're correct--and they have a strong case--in practical terms it means that visitors to Argentina need to make their flight plans as far in advance as possible, and even then there's always a chance that things will go awry.

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