American Falcon in move to extend regional routes

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JUSTIN WASTNAGE / LONDON

Argentinian carrier is seeking authority to start eight new South American services

Argentinian carrier American Falcon is set to exploit a government plan to start regional services from Buenos Aires' city airport. The Argentine capital's Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport currently only supports domestic flights and services to Uruguay, which has a customs union with Argentina.

American Falcon, which operates feeder services for European carriers from the capital's Ezeizia International airport, will start additional services via Montevideo, where it has fourth freedom rights. This is in advance of final Argentine transport ministry plans to open up the city centre airport to all destinations in the six-nation Mercosur trading bloc.

The airline, which operates a Boeing 737-200 and Fokker F28, has requested approval from the Argentine civil aviation authority to start eight new services to South American destinations, with Mercosur services starting temporarily from Ezeizia. If approval is granted, flights would start operating in October next year and transfer to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery as soon as the South American bloc clears plans for streamlined immigration controls.

American Falcon's president Fayez Chehab says that the airline is to start a service next week linking Iberia's daily Montevideo service with Buenos Aires. Two more 737-200s will join the fleet this month.

The airline has similar agreements with major US and European carriers and will start onward services to other South American cities from Uruguay. Chehab says that the airline is "waiting for the Aerolíneas Argentinas poker game" to finish before it bets on thefuture of aviation in Argentina.

By the end of this month American Falcon expects to become the majority shareholder in Argentinian regional LAER, which operates services throughout the north of the country. This will see LAER's loss-making services to secondary Argentine cities terminated and its two F28s redeployed onto regional crossborder services from northern Argentina.