Aerolineas gets final release from decade old bankruptcy process

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Argentina's state owned flag carrier and SkyTeam candidate Aerolineas Argentinas has received final approval from a Buenos Aires court to exit its bankruptcy process initiated in 2001 and resolved several years ago, with the exception of a few major creditors that had not accepted the court agreed debt reduction proposals.

According to an Aerolineas source, this court decision finally gives the carrier "the freedom to manage its assets and to obtain better access to financial resources".

While Aerolineas does not mention which open creditor claims prevented the process from being finalised, in 2008 when the bankruptcy court confirmed the final compliance of Aerolineas with the original agreement, sources familiar to the process say that debts with Spanish Banesto bank, Iberia and the IATA Clearinghouse had to be cleared separately.

Aerolineas was readmitted to the IATA Clearinghouse in March 2010 after several years of absence, enabling the airline to negotiate interline and code share agreements that will ultimately lead to its SkyTeam integration next year.

Aerolineas entered bankruptcy administration in 2001 when it was administered by the Spanish state holding SEPI that had inherited it from Iberia, which decided to divest its Argentinean subsidiary as part of its own privatisation process.

The now bankrupt Spanish Marsans travel group acquired the airline in late 2001 from SEPI, with the mandate to refloat Aerolineas financially. In 2008 the Argentinean state decided to re-nationalise the airline, which has since then started an ambitious fleet renewal and route recovery programme, although it remains plagued by heavy yearly losses.