Argentina's state-owned Aerolineas Argentinas has launched a new route between Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport and Rosario, the country's third largest city, in an attempt to improve the connections between its long haul and domestic flights.
According to an Aerolineas Argentinas source, the evening flight will allow passengers travelling to and from Rosario "seamless connections at Ezeiza to Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Miami, Mexico City, Auckland and Sydney". He added that "during 2012, more major domestic destinations will get a daily flight or two operating to Ezeiza, in addition to their Aeroparque frequencies".
The airline currently operates almost all domestic flights and those to neighbouring countries from Buenos Aires' Aeroparque downtown airport, creating significant inconvenience for passengers with connecting flights at Ezeiza.
The new flight to Rosario will allow passengers to reach outbound night flights at Ezeiza while inbound passengers, typically arriving at Ezeiza in the early morning, will still need to travel to Aeroparque for their connecting flights.
The new domestic flights from Ezeiza, which hardly produces point-to-point traffic, could be an indication that the airline is concerned about competitors like TAM, LAN and Copa capturing a significant share of Argentina's domestic market through more efficient international connections through their own hubs.
According to the source, Aerolineas plans to introduce direct connections at Ezeiza to "all principal destinations in Argentina, like Rosario, Cordoba and Mendoza", which are served by its foreign competitors. "Our domestic connections to intercontinental flights will be free of charge for our passengers," said the source.
In addition to attempting to recover its share on the domestic front, Aerolineas is also "considering ways to improve access to key international connection markets", such as Santiago de Chile and Montevideo, which could also receive additional flights from Ezeiza to improve connections.
LAN and Pluna have repeatedly complained that the Argentinean government has become increasingly protectionist by not authorising new international connections from Argentina's interior or additional capacity to and from Buenos Aires.