New Argentinian airline on the horizon

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A new Argentinian domestic carrier is being prepared for launch by Antonio Mata, a former head of Aerolineas Argentinas.

AirPampas is expected to start flying by December using a fleet of Boeing MD-80s after receiving an operating permit this month from Argentina's transport ministry.

Aimed at wresting a significant slice of Aerolineas Argentinas/Austral's 85% share of the domestic market, AirPampas is expected to follow the low-cost/low-fare formula employed by European and US carriers.

Mata has reportedly inked a leasing deal with American Airlines for AirPampas's initial fleet. The airline will start scheduled services with three MD-82s, the fleet increasing to 10 by late 2008 and rising to 25 MD-82/MD-83s by the end of 2009. The decision to opt for MD-80 series aircraft is not only linked to financial considerations, but their ready availability and large flight and cabin crew pool in Argentina.

Submitting a request to serve 26 domestic destinations, Mata says that AirPampas's initial route network will link Buenos Aires with Bariloche, Calafate, Córdoba, and Mendoza, which are considered among the most profitable Argentine destinations. Tapping Aerolíneas Argentinas to fill key management positions, recruitment of flight and cabin crews, along with maintenance and staff personnel, began late last month.

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