Like many countries around the world Argentina grounded its air traffic network in March 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The country now has a tentative reopening date for the industry: 1 September 2020.
It has been considered reasonable to set September 1, 2020 for the purposes of rescheduling regular operations or requesting authorizations for non-regular operations of passenger air transport to the effective lifting of the restrictions imposed on commercial air transport and the modalities of operation that may be established in due course on the orderly exit of the generated emergency by the new Coronavirus COVID 19.– Argentinian law 144/2020
The new guidance, embodied in Law 144/2020 and published today (page 30 of this PDF in Spanish) proposes that all air traffic remain suspended until 1 September 2020. There are accommodations made for the sale of plane tickets in the interim, but only for travel after the proposed date for service resumption. This explicit requirement should help avoid some of the confusion India experienced where airlines started selling seats for future flights without knowing for sure that operations would resume. They then balked at providing refunds of the money paid by travelers.
Several industry trade groups objected to the new law. In a joint statement IATA, ACI and ALTA note the “decision directly affects the future of the entire commercial aviation value chain in Argentina and the region, including domestic and international airlines, tourism and related sectors, putting at risk thousands of jobs. Also, Argentina’s connectivity with the world, as well as its domestic airline network which is vital for the transportation of essential supplies and the economic and social well-being of the nation, is being put under threat.”
The groups note that aviation is critical for humanitarian services in Argentina and those efforts are hamstrung by the lack of commercial flights. Moreover, the groups are concerned that the decision was made without consulting industry representatives.
Finally, while respecting the health implications of flight operations the trio of organizations point out the impact to the broader Argentine economy and the aviation sector in particular:
We are faced with an extremely complex scenario, in which airlines still need to cover about 50% of their fixed costs, while not generating any income. Unfortunately, many companies in the sector will not be able to survive if this resolution is implemented as planned. Therefore, we reiterate our call for a timely dialogue with the relevant authorities in order to ensure the survival of the sector, in support of the country’s overall socio-economic well being.-IATA/ACI/ALTA Statement