The slow and sad process of dismantling the Argentinian subsidiary of LATAM Airlines had a key moment this Thursday, March 4, when the Airbus A320 registered as LV-BRA took off from Ezeiza International Airport. It will soon be joined by another six which were «trapped» at Jorge Newbery Airport last August when the runway reconstruction works began.
After asking about the subject, the holding stated that «within the framework of the definitive cease of operations announced on June 17th, the company began the process of transferring those aircraft from its fleet that still remain in Argentina for maintenance work before being returned to their owners».
They emphasized that the aircraft are not owned by the airline, so they must be returned to the lessors «in compliance with all the corresponding operating procedures.» There were doubts as to whether or not the workers would allow the planes to leave the country in the event of a possible labor claim through the courts.
LATAM Argentina had announced the definitive cease of its operations in the country on June 17 last year. Although the paralysis of commercial aviation activity as a result of the pandemic dealt the final blow, the subsidiary had been dragging negative numbers as a result of the opening of the Argentinian commercial aviation market in 2018, and their inability to adapt to the new conditions with a traditional structure, on which the management tried to advance without success (in 2018 they lost USD 132.5 million, which would grow to almost USD 134 million in 2019).
«The difficulty of generating the multiple agreements necessary to face the current situation contributes to setting up an extremely complex scenario in which the conditions are not in place to make the subsidiary’s operations viable and sustainable in the long term» the holding pointed out in June.
In April, LATAM Argentina had begun to pay its employees 50% of their salary, with a floor of ARS 47,500 (USD 708 at the official exchange rate at that time) under the protection of article 223 bis from the Ley de Contrato de Trabajo, a measure resisted by the unions that led to multiple negotiations that ended without a positive outcome.
Following the closure announcement, the company proposed a voluntary retirement plan that was gradually accepted by 1,522 of the 1,715 employees, and which ended in February. The rest will receive the corresponding compensation based on the current regime, which establishes to double the severance amount with a ceiling of ARS 500,000.