Low budget airline Ryanair may be coming to Argentina in 2017. So next time a four-day fin de rolls around, you may be able to hop on a jet to Bariloche to tango in the snow instead of looking up tickets for the 24-hour bus ride, think “Nah,” and roll back over into your Chocolinas-crumb-covered bed to continue your Orange Is the New Black marathon. Yay!
Declan Ryan, the founder of Ryan Air — the pioneering Irish budget airline that operates throughout Europe — announced to La Nación that his company, low cost airline developer Irelandia Aviation, is looking to operate in-country flights in Latin American countries next year, and that Argentina is at the top of his list. “It’s only a matter of time,” he said.
“According to our data, only between 5 and 7 percent of Argentines have flown. We’re going to triple that number and hope to see 20 percent fly. When we started out in Colombia, only 2.5 percent of the population had ever taken a plane; now, after four years operating in that country, that percentage has increased to 10.”
Ryan is reportedly already in advanced talks to acquire a fleet of planes from Andes Airlines and has met with Transportation Minister Guillermo Dietrich. But significant obstacles still stand in the way before such an airline could begin flights. Budget airlines usually operate out of smaller airports which have lower fees (airlines must pay to use the airports). But in Argentina, a single group, Aeropuertos Argentina 2000, controls 35 of the 38 airports, meaning the cost of fees is not competitive. Ryan hopes to see those fees reduced.
As for concerns from State-airline Aerolineas Argentina that this will infringe upon their business, Ryan insists that they have nothing to worry about because the two companies are operating within two very different scopes. He did add the following, though: “You think that the flagship airline is like the national football team, but it’s not. The team is very efficient while 12,000 Aerolineas Argentina employees are not exactly Messi caliber.” Ok, Declan.
Irelandia Aviation invested in Mexican airline VivaAerobus in 2006 and began flying in Colombia under the name “VivoColombia” in 2012. The company views its latest venture in Argentina as an opportunity to make flying accessible to a country reliant on ground transit.
Ryanair, which Declan Ryan founded with his family, began operating in Europe in 1985. Ryan quit as director in 2003 to found Irelandia Aviation. His companies, along with other budget airlines, revolutionized air travel with their no-baggage flights to airports located a bit out of the way in exchange for lower ticket prices.
Mark you calendars, this time next year we do the polar bear plunge at the end of the world. Vamos!