Aerolineas Argentinas' is the largest domestic and international airline from Argentina. The company's history began in the year 1929, when an airline company named Aeroposta started operations. The Argentine government, recognizing Argentina's vast geographic size and the need for faster communications between people living in Argentina's countryside and those living in larger cities, established an airline company to carry both people and mail. The first two destinations served were Mendoza and Posadas. The Frenchmen Jean Mermoz and Antoine de Saint-Exupery, later legends in Argentina, were among the first pilots used.
Aerolineas Argentinas A340-200.|
By 1930, 2 more airlines, LASO and LANE, began flights and the number of cities served by airlines in Argentina tripled. In 1945, these two airlines joined, becoming LADE (Lineas Aereas Del Estado, or State Owned Air Lines in English). This was well timed, since World War 2 was entering its final stages and commercial aviation was about to start a stage of explosive growth.
In 1946 the first Douglas DC-3's arrived in Argentina, and Argentina's first intercontinental airline, FAMA, was created. This represented a big leap in Argentine commercial aviation since this was the first international airline in the country.
In 1949, all these airlines decided to join forces under one name: Aerolineas Argentinas.
Two men important to the growth of the airline were Dirk Wessel Van Layden and Alfonso Aliaga Garcia. They were visionaries, and by this time, Argentina still had no acceptable airport facilities. Van Layden had been a pilot with the French airline Aeropostale (not to be confused with Aeroposta), and he was eager to help get the best pilot standards.
The DC-3 proved to be an invaluable asset for Aerolineas Argentinas, just as it did for a host of other airlines worldwide. It enabled them to fly to domestic destinations that had, until then, been unreachable and to keep flying FAMA's international routes. Soon afterwards, Douglas DC-4s joined the fleet and services were inaugurated to Santiago, Lima, Santa Cruz, and Sao Paulo.
The 1950s had arrived when the DC-6 arrived, allowing Aerolineas Argentinas to fly at night for the first time. Thanks to this plane, the name of Aerolineas Argentinas was seen at terminals in New York's Idlewild airport, as well as Havana, Lisbon, Senegal's Dakar and Rio De Janeiro.
At the end of that decade, the Comet IV jet had begun commercial jet services worldwide, and Aerolineas once again wanted to set the pace among South America's air companies. Airline President Juan Jose Guiraldes persuaded Argentina's President Arturo Frondizi to buy 6 of the new planes, on the understanding that Aerolineas would pay for the planes later. And so, on March 2, 1959, 'Tres Marias', which became the first jet airplane flown by Aerolineas, landed at Ezeiza's Ministro Pistarini International Airport.
The 1970s saw the arrival of the Boeing 747's, 737's and 727's , and a stronger marketing strategy. Aerolineas Argentinas was featured on many Jorge Porcel movies at that time, and the airline started licensing toy companies to produce models of their aircraft, a practice they maintain today. In 1980, Aerolineas Argentinas became the first airline to operate a trans-oceanic South Pacific flight, from Buenos Aires to Auckland, New Zealand,and Sydney using Boeing 747s. The route remains in operation.
At the beginning of the 1990s the airline was sold by the Argentine government to the Spanish state-owned company Iberia.They added the MD-88 to the fleet to complement the larger Boeing equipment and improve domestic services.The airline was merged with Argentina´s domestic airline Austral. Few further changes were seen and by the late 90´s the airline was near bankruptcy. The Spanish government decided to sell it´s control to American Airlines. In that year (1999) the airline received the latest in jet technology, the Airbus A340, which enabled Aerolineas Argentinas to start non-stop flights between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles.
Because of the economic crisis in Argentina in 2002, Aerolineas Argentinas was forced to close down all international services for a few days. However, the airline came back almost immediately.
Today Aerolineas Argentinas has a fleet of 52 planes: 6 B747, 4 A340, 10 MD80 and 32 B737, serving 34 domestic destinations, and 20 cities around the world. It controls around 80% of Argentina´s domestic traffic and 40% of international flights from Ministro Pistarini International Airport, which is located in Ezeiza, Argentina and serves Buenos Aires.
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