JACKSON FLORES / RIO DE JANEIRO
Recently-bankrupt airline to refit 737s as it sets sights on expansion outside Argentina
Argentinian flag carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas is to launch a corporate aviation subsidiary, Aerolíneas Executive Jet, later this year, as it recovers from bankruptcy. The plan, disclosed late last year by Aerolíneas Argentinas' chief executive Antonio Mata, is a bid to tap the expanding regional corporate aviation market in Argentina.
With a budget of $4 million, the plans envisage the charter of three Boeing 737-200s from the Aerolíneas fleet that will be refurbished into a corporate configuration.
Company sources say Aerolíneas Executive Jet has been proposed to lower the cost of corporate aviation in Argentina, by absorbing the maintenance and acquisition costs into a mainline operation.
The Argentinian corporate aviation market is third in Latin America in terms of aircraft movements, but has been badly hit by the country's economic crisis. The airline says that if the project is successful it could be extended under its current air operator's certificate to neighbouring countries such as Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The airline has overhauled the first 737, which had been in storage, at its new maintenance facility at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport. The aircraft will be completed by Completion Air in Wheeling, Illinois, and could enter service by June. The other two aircraft have not been removed from service and the company has yet to define a modification schedule.
Source: Flight International