LAN downplays standoff with Argentina over hangar

Madrid
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LAN Argentina is seeking to downplay a threat by Argentinean state-owned authorities to seize the carrier's maintenance hangar at Buenos Aires Aeroparque airport.

Airport regulator ORSNA had said that LAN would "face eviction" from its maintenance hangar at the crowded downtown airport on 1 August, but LAN says today that the airline has "not received any official communication on the matter".

LATAM Airlines group's chief executive Enrique Cueto has been reported as saying that the issue is a "technical problem" and will not prevent LAN from operating at the airport. LAN Argentina is part of the LATAM group.

A LAN union representative says that LAN had said it would dramatically scale down its Argentinean operations and lay off up to 1,500 employees should ORSNA execute the latest of a series of government-sponsored measures, apparently aimed at limiting LAN Argentina's ability to efficiently compete with loss-making state-owned Aerolineas Argentinas.

LAN Airlines chief executive Ignacio Cueto has said that LAN would not be able to operate without a maintenance base at the airport

LAN has said that it invested $5 million in 2008 in the facilities in exchange for a 15-year lease of the premises. It has said that it is open to discussions to resolve the situation.

Earlier this year, state-owned ground handling monopoly Intercargo forced LAN to briefly ground its operations until LAN gave in to Intercargo's request to charge higher service fees despite the existence of a valid contract until 2014 and a court order ordering Intercargo to continue servicing LAN aircraft at the rates stipulated in the contract.