Inconvenient though it was, at least they had the decency to call me and reserve the same seats. They did say--although I'm not exactly sure how-- that they would fully reimburse me if their flight on the 23rd is cancelled, likewise my return in April. On the plus side, it means I get to spend my birthday (the 24th) in Buenos Aires!
With regards to their business model, you might be right, but remember that the '90s were very different in Argentina. A lot of things seemed possible. LAPA finally blossomed after 15 years. Dinar came about. And in the regional market, LAER and TAN Neuquén did well. Where Maggio went wrong, I'm not quite sure, but at the time operating 50-seat aircraft out of Argentina's second biggest city didn't seem like a bad idea, not least since for years and years, AR
's B732s had not been making money on domestic routes. To the day, Argentina would
be better-off with more regional jets/turboprops, and Argentine aviation will not grow unless new airlines can succeed in breaking the stranglehold of Buenos Aires.
Come 2002, there was no way that A4
could afford the least rates of their CRJ-200s and Dash 8s--the former costing approximately USD 140,000 a month. Where I think they really
went wrong was not so much in the acquisition of the 3 ex-Ladeco B732s, but in inaugurating their international services to MAD
when they did. Had the CAT II
downgrade not occurred, and had A4
been able to operate the aircraft themselves instead of through Air Atlanta, the story might have been slightly different, but in addition to the 767 leasing costs, A4
were having to pay the Icelandic crew's Dollarised salaries. It took them over a year to realise they simply couldn't keep this up.
So yes, they lacked the discipline to scale back, and I'm sure had they focused on routes where they could earn in US Dollars like EZE
could have ended-up with a better-looking balance sheet. As it was, in September 2003, just before the LAFSA project came to the "rescue", A4
was already bankrupt. At present, they have a crippling debt of USD 50 million.
In the long run, I don't see LAN coming to the rescue. As it is, LAN Argentina are being harrassed to take on board the 850 LAFSA employees and the 200 ex-Aerovip. If UX
don't lend a helping hand, I honestly don't see A4
It's possible that last Sunday's MAD
flight was cancelled for mx reasons, as the Jumbo required minor repairs on its undercarriage.
It is sad to see A4
go belly up, but I'd stop short of saying surprising. Does anyone think WK (American Falcon) will follow suit?