Chile's leading newspaper, "El Mercurio", published today this article about Aviation Freedoms in Latin America, after a conference made during FIDAE 2004:
Santiago the Chile, "El Mercurio", Negocios, March 31 2004
"Regional Airlines crashes for open skies
Latin American competitors are not willing for it
“We don’t want governments to milk us as cows” said Giovanni Bisignani, general manager of IATA, that unites 277 airlines around the world.
This metaphor was cheered among the attendees of the conference made during FIDAE (Aviation and Space International Fair) “New Structures: Tomorrow has come”, attended by top managers of Latin American civil aviation companies.
All attendees agreed the excessive taxes charged by Latam governments are jeopardizing aviation development and sky-opened policies.
Open Skies would allow companies as Lan or Aerolineas Argentinas can freely start operations in other countries. But, despite enthusiastic speech of Chilean minister of Transportation and the vice president of Lan, both calling for open skies in the region, most of latin airlines opinions pointed we are far from achieving that. As another metaphor, the president of Venezuelan carrier Aeropostal said: “integration is like a pretty lady: we watch her, we talk to her but we don’t get her because we are afraid of her”.
Aeropostal manager conclusion, shared by most of the attendees, is tough for Chilean and Lan intentions: “we are not ready for integration”, he said. Lan vice president was ironic “here at FIDAE we are watching air fighting missiles”.
The almost no chance to brake airline barriers is reflected in the fact Lan has received no answer from Argentine authorities for open skies with Argentina as reciprocity for the entrance of AR in Chilean market.
Latin America holds only 5% of world air traffic. 9 out of 10 regional companies have accountable losses, and 1/3 is broke, according to one of the shareholders of Lan. The future seems confusing, regardless Boeing’s predictions of 7.2% of growth for Latam during 2004.
The conference was attended by the most interested company in buying Avianca, Synergy from Brazil, that already agreed with its shareholder the purchase of 75% of Avianca. They are currently making a re-structure and control-taking plan, and it should happen this April. But there are more steps to follow: the future of Avianca will be decide in New York courts, under US Bankruptcy law, which may result in better offers for Colombians owners of the airline. The other interested buyer is Copa from Panama.
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