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Chile approves Aerolineas offshoot

Chile's Sky Airlines is threatening a lawsuit to block Aerolineas del Sur

Chile has approved domestic operations by Aerolineas del Sur, a new airline formed by the same Spanish group that owns Aerolineas Argentinas. It launched flights in early December.

The obvious link between Aerolineas del Sur and Aerolineas Argentinas has drawn considerable fire within Chile, both as to the new carrier's compliance with foreign ownership caps and a lack of reciprocity with Argentina. Chile's Sky Airlines is threatening a lawsuit to block Aerolineas del Sur on these grounds among others.

The new airline is owned by the Marsans group, which also owns Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Plus in Spain, and a stake in Spanair. Indirectly, the start-up appears to fulfill a long-standing goal of Aerolineas Argentinas to launch affiliated airlines in countries adjoining Argentina. Already the new carrier declares that it will fly to a number of South American nations once it completes a two-phased start-up in Chile.

Fernando Dozo, the new airline's chief executive, concedes that Aerolineas del Sur is backed by Spanish capital, but contends it satisfies Chile's foreign caps because its shareholders are Chilean. The new airline plans to operate three Boeing 737-200s on domestic routes and a Boeing 747-200 internationally. Chile has not yet designated it to fly any foreign routes.

Meanwhile, the Marsans Group aims to sell 45% of its stake in Aerolineas Argentinas by the end of this quarter. Plans call for an initial private placement of 15% to local institutions followed by a public offering in Buenos Aires and Madrid of another 30%. 

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