Argentina's civil aviation authority has appealed against the judicial order from a Buenos Aires administrative court imposing a night-flight ban at the national capital's El Palomar low-cost airport.
A local chamber of the federal commercial and administrative court, having accepted complaints from neighborhood associations that night-time landings and take-offs exceeded legally established noise levels, imposed a curfew on all flight operations from 23:00 to 06:00, effective 9 September.
The aviation regulator ANAC says it has presented an appeal against the court decision, arguing that El Palomar "has all environmental certificates in order" and "complies with international, ICAO-defined night-flight regulations", and also questioning the competence of a local administrative court to "partially close down the operations of an airport that is part of the national airport system”.
El Palomar is one of the oldest airports in the region. It has since 1910 served as a military airfield with no restrictions to nightly operations. In 2017 it was converted into Buenos Aires' third commercial airport, in addition to Ezeiza International and the downtown Aeroparque, to absorb the additional traffic resulting from the recent liberalisation of Argentina's aviation market.
ANAC says the prohibition on operating night flights could, on certain days of the week, affect up to 6,000 passengers carried by the two low-cost carriers that established their local operational bases at El Palomar: Flybondi and JetSmart Argentina.
A Flybondi source says that, if finally implemented, a night-flight ban "would obviously affect our expansion and investment plans".
He adds: "As an ultra-low-cost airline we have to optimise the utilisation of our aircraft, and we cannot afford to have them sitting on the ground for seven hours every night. Argentina is a large country with long flights, which cannot reasonably take off after or land before the curfew.
"Some international rotations, such as the nightly return trip to Asuncion [Paraguayan capital], currently depart El Palomar after and return before the proposed closure time."
Flybondi, which launched operations in early 2018, is particularly vulnerable to the decision as it based its business model on the operational flexibility available at El Palomar and even decided recently to close down its secondary base in the Argentinian city of Cordoba in order to streamline and concentrate its operations in Buenos Aires.
ANAC says 17% of El Palomar flights are operated between 23:00 and 6:00. The destinations affected include Asuncion, Bariloche, Cordoba, Iguazu, Mendoza, Neuquen, Salta and Tucuman.