Argentina’s Infrastructure Ministry will ax almost half of departments at national airline Aerolíneas Argentinas, it announced on Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, the ministry said it would cut the number of departments at the flag carrier from 14 to eight. It also vowed to slash roles that report directly to senior management from 17 to 11.
The ministry said that the decision had been made “in line with the policies of reduction of the State and fiscal savings set by the National Government.”
Aerolíneas Argentinas was founded in 1950 and privatized in the 1990s under former President Carlos Saúl Menem. It was nationalized during Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s first term as president in 2008, offering more direct routes that did not require a layover in Buenos Aires. But it also drew criticism for running a deficit. The question of its privatization has been a political hot potato ever since. The Milei government is trying to put the flag carrier back into private hands.
Air transport workers’ unions have spoken out against Milei’s reforms. The Association of Aeronautical Technical Staff (APTA, by its Spanish initials) said on January 5 that it would join the January 24 strike announced by trade union federation, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), accusing the president of attempting to “set up an institutional dictatorship” by attempting to change laws by decree.
President Javier Milei is pursuing an “open skies policy” towards air transport in a bid to increase competition. Changes include removing a requirement for at least half of flights in Argentina to be operated by Aerolíneas Argentinas. His December mega-decree also allows foreign planes with foreign crews to operate flights in the country. Minimum pricing regulations designed to prevent a race to the bottom were abolished.
“The mega-decree, in addition to the unacceptable privatization of Aerolíneas Argentinas, means to implement an ‘open skies’ policy and a new scheme of unrestricted freedom on pricing,” APTA wrote in a statement announcing its participation in the strike.
“In the case of Aerolíneas Argentinas in particular, the legal requirement establishing that the majority shareholder control corresponds to the Argentine state is eliminated. It also establishes that the state can authorize new companies to operate without going via obligatory public hearings, and these companies will also be allowed a percentage of foreign staff.
“It’s evident that all of these measures have a clear name and surname: that of a caste of business owners and capital, local and above all foreign, who are the true power behind this government.”