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AIRG buy brings Aerosur link

JACKSON FLORES / RIO DE JANEIRO

After attempts to merge with Southern Winds last month failed, Argentinian carrier AIRG has been sold to an Argentinian/Bolivian group for an undisclosed sum (Flight International, 13-19 August).

AIRG, formerly LAPA,is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and it is understood that its estimated $130 million debt will be absorbed by the new owners. The airline will also form a partnership with Bolivian private domestic carrier Aerosur.

AIRG has been struggling to maintain its share of the domestic market. The Argentinian government had requested 99% shareholder Eduardo Eurnekian to divest himself of AIRG due to his part-ownership of Argentinian airport operator AA2000. With the sale, Mario Folchi - a former Aerosur representative in Argentina - gains 45% of AIRG and becomes chief executive, while 25% of the company's shares have gone to Aerosur's chief executive, Humberto Roca.

AIRG's new owners have indicated that the carrier will reintroduce its former LAPA identity and they intend to improve the airline's financial health.

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