Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) announced at a press conference in Buenos Aires this morning a major fleet rennovation plan, and will invest US$557.8 million for the acquisition of 49 new planes over the next 5 years, transforming AR
into the largest Boeing operator in Latin America.
Vice-President José María Llodrá stipulated that the 32 B737-200s currently in service will be gradually replaced between 2004 and 2007 by B737-300s and B737-500s, while the B747-200s will be replaced by B747-400s, one of which is already in service with another due to arrive in the 1st week of June and two more in September and January 2005 respectively.
This year, AR
has signed contracts with Boeing for 7 B737-500s, 2 more B737-200s for Chilean subsidiary Aerolineas del Sur, and an MD
-83. The first two B737-500s should be delivered in November this year, after the Lufthansa offer fell through.
Llodrá remained vague about the acquistion of the A340-600s, saying there were still "terms in the contract that hadn't been met", so in short, don't expect them any time soon.
Vis-à-vis China, there are "no bilateral agreements" between the two countries as of yet, but AR
should definitely be serving the route by years' end. In fact, they are still studying the option of serving Peking and Shanghai through Sydney as oppsed to Madrid, although Llodrá acknowledged the profitability of the route from Madrid given that no Spanish carrier currently serves the route.
And Llodrá was even MORE vague about the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern destinations, saying nothing clearer than "last quarter of 2004", but he may just have well have mumbled his response under his thick moustache!
However, he confirmed that the MD
-80s will remain in the fleet, and remained diplomatically silent about Airbus, although he did say that AR
will not be "shopping for brand-new A320s" or the like, clarifying from the beginning that all the aircraft will be "second-hand" due to the "unfavourable" circumstances.
Boeing's Veep for Latin American and Caribbean Sales, John Wojick, said he was extremely impressed by AR
's turnaround since the Marsans Group takeover on October 18, 2001. Of course, the Spanish government was left to foot the bill of debts...
Let's hope this time they are serious!