30 June 2012

Adios Amigo - Aerolineas Argentinas bow out

Aerolineas Argentinas withdraw their thrice weekly Airbus 340 service from Buenos Aires-Auckland-Sydney service today because of mounting operational costs. In early May Aerolineas Argentinas' New Zealand sales manager, Chris Schoffer, said costs, particularly for fuel, were too high. Taking New Zealand "out of the equation" made a significant reduction in the company's costs. It's not viable to fly to New Zealand any more."
On the 7th of June 1980 an Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 747-200 left Buenos Aires on the first trans-South Pole flight of a commercial airline. From Buenos Aires the flight made a stop in Río Gallegos before flying over the South Pole to Auckland arriving on the 8th. The aircraft continued on to Hong Kong.

In December 1980 Argentinian officials were in Wellington to negotiate a bilateral air service agreement. Initially these negotiations were not successful but between April and August 1981 five charter flights were operated. A regular service to Auckland finally began on the 5th of September 1981, the first flight being operated by Boeing 747-287B LV-OEP arriving in Auckland on the following day.

The Falkland Islands War saw New Zealand putting a pause on the air service. Flights were stopped on the 5th of April 1982. Flights resumed on a fortnightly basis on the 18th of December 1984. During the 1990s the service to Auckland was extended to Sydney and the frequency increased to two flights per week.

The flights were again suspended on the 7th of June 2001 due to losses on all routes. By this time the airline was operated Airbus A340-200s on the service. The service was reinstated on a weekly basis on the 10th of December 2001 and gradually the frequency was built up to three flights per week.

While Auckland loses its Aerolineas Argentinas service today the company will continue to fly direct to Sydney from Buenos Aires.

This post was compiled from Bruce Gavin's records
LV-ZPO on finals to Auckland's runway 23 on 18 May 2008. Photo : S Lowe

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