After weeks of threatening Oneworld alliance member LAN with being expelled from its Buenos Aires Aeroparque downtown airport maintenance hangar, the Argentinean government has finally decided to end negotiations by sending a formal notification to the airline.
Airport regulator ORSNA confirmed that it sent the carrier a unilateral contract finalisation note on 20 August, giving it 10 days to abandon the hangar, in which it invested $5 million to date, or face eviction. The airline holds a lease for the hangar through 2023.
While LAN has made it clear that losing the maintenance facility at its most important Argentinean base would not prevent it from continuing operations in the country, it admitted that any alternatives under evaluation are "costly". One option is the San Fernando executive aviation airport located in northern Buenos Aires.
However, LAN is not yet giving up on the Argentinean powerplay to protect its state-owned, loss-making flag carrier Aerolineas Argentinas from competitors. The Chilean daily La Tercera reports that LAN chief executive Ignacio Cueto is cutting short a visit to Colombia for a meeting with Argentinean officials while the Chilean foreign ministry has started started a diplomatic initiative to protect LAN's interests.
In recent months, LAN-parent LATAM has faced a number of government sponsored measures against its airlines in Argentina, including a brief grounding of LAN Argentina after state owned handling monopoly Intercargo stopped serving LAN aircraft, despite the existence of a valid contract.