Aerolineas Argentinas has begun proceedings to join the SkyTeam aviation alliance, with the airline set to become its first South American member.
In a statement the airline said it would “officially start the process of joining SkyTeam as the first South American member of the airline alliance” by the end of the month.
Alliance officials added that “SkyTeam was actively working to strengthen its presence in Latin America, a region with strong growth figures and a positive outlook for the future”.
Aerolineas Argentinas is now expected to become a full member in 2012.
Aeromexico is the geographically closest current member.
Only re-nationalised in late 2008, Aerolineas Argentinas has been loss-making for some time. At present the airline is trying to shake off what president Mariano Recalde has described as a reputation for poor service that took hold when Grupo Marsans owned the Buenos Aires-based carrier.
SkyTeam added: “Through a five-year restructuring plan introduced last year, Aerolineas Argentinas is implementing a number of measures to strengthen its business model and establish itself as a major player in Latin America.
“Key elements of this plan include fleet renewal and rationalization, adding key international destinations, increasing the density of the domestic and regional network and improving product quality and consistency.”
SkyTeam has been celebrating its tenth anniversary
Ten Year Plan
SkyTeam chairman Leo van Wijk said at the alliance’s 10th anniversary gathering in New York earlier this year that Latin America is “the most difficult” area in which to find potential partners with suitable network scope because “the market is rather fragmented…It is not a continent where one solution will do, so we are targeting more carriers in the different regions of the continent”.
The alliance presently has 13 members, including Air Europa, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, TAROM, Czech Airlines and Aeroflot in Europe.
Vietnam Airlines, Korean Air, and China Southern Airlines represent the alliance in Asia, while Kenya Airways covers Africa. In North America, influence stretches from Delta Air Lines in the United States to Aeroméxico across the border.