Cielos del Sur S.A., operating as Austral Líneas Aéreas, more commonly known by its shortened name Austral, is a domestic airline of Argentina, the sister company of Aerolíneas Argentinas. It is the second largest domestic scheduled airline in the country, after Aerolíneas Argentinas itself. As a subsidiary of Aerolíneas Argentinas, the company shares its headquarters with that airline, which is located in the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery of Buenos Aires, the main base of operations of the company.
Austral is currently fully integrated into Aerolíneas Argentinas; however, some differences arise, especially those relying upon the Unions the staff of both companies are affiliated to, which lead to constant conflicts.
The origins of the carrier trace back to 1957, when Compañía Austral de Transportes Aéreos SACI (CATASACI) was founded, starting scheduled services in January 1958 . CATASACI focused its services on southwestern Argentina, but it also operated international flights to Montevideo, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas. Aerotransportes Litoral Argentino (ALA) was a Rosario–based company that was founded in 1957 to operate flights between this city and Buenos Aires using Aero Commander equipment and operated flights within northern Argentina. In 1965, Pan Am acquired a 22% stake in ALA in return for supplying the company with DC-3s. A year later, CATASACI acquired a 30% holding in ALA and the services of both companies were integrated.
At May 1971C-46s, five DC-3s, two DC-6Bs and five YS-11A-300s that served a domestic network including Buenos Aires, Corrientes, Formosa, Goya, Paraná, Paso de los Libres, Posadas, Resistencia, Rosario, Salta, Santa Fe and Tucumán, plus regional services to Antofagasta and Asunción, whereas CATASACI had a fleet that included seven BAC One-Elevens —four 400s and three 500s—, one C-46, one DC-6 and three YS-11s. Austral Líneas Aéreas was formally established in June that year from the merger of CATASACI and ALA. In practice, operations of the latter airline were absorbed by CATASACI, which was rebranded as Austral Líneas Aéreas S.A. after merging. Austral inherited both companies' fleet, consisting of turboprops NAMC YS-11 and jetliners BAC One-Eleven., the ALA fleet consisted of two
Austral became a government-owned company in 1980. After poor economic performances, there were two failed attempts to re-privatise Austral in 1981 and 1983. All that time Austral and Aerolíneas Argentinas were competitors on a number of domestic routes. Realizing that such a situation could not persist much longer, the government decided again to privatise Austral. This was much resisted by the Aerolíneas Argentinas' personnel, and more specifically its pilots, who claimed their salaries were lower than those of Austral's counterparts. Aerolíneas Argentinas' pilots union understood the government effort was not to solve their affiliates salary conflict, but to focus on privatising a loss-making carrier as Austral was instead. The consequence of this discrepance was the announcement that Aerolíneas Argentinas flights were to be indefinitely suspended by way of a strike, effective 1 July 1986. The strike affected both Aerolineas Argentinas' domestic and international operations. Argentine as well as foreign carriers were benefited from this strike. Ironically, Austral was included among those carriers, gaining the domestic market share Aerolíneas Argentinas lost.
Austral became once again a privately owned firm when it was acquired by the holding company Cielos del Sur S.A. in late 1987. The acquisition generated some controversy on the Argentine aviation sector at that time, as it was raised that the new owner had little or no experience in managing an airline. On April 1988, the carrier became an IATA member. Shortly afterwards, the company faced a major accident during its new private era on 12 June 1988, when a McDonnell Douglas MD-81 hit a tree on a low visibility approach into Posadas and crashed. Apart from the 22 fatalities involved in the accident, it also spread concerns on the aviation sector over the airline's poor rate of occupation on some routes, of just 10.32% for this particular flight.
Cielos del Sur S.A. and Iberia formed a consortium to acquire an 85% stake in Aerolíneas Argentinas in 1990, within the framework of that flag carrier privatisation. Soon afterwards, Cielos del Sur S.A. sold Austral to Iberia. The destiny of both Aerolíneas Argentinas and Austral became aligned thereafter. By July 1998, the company was 10% owned by its erstwhile competitor Aerolíneas Argentinas.
On 21 July 2008 the Argentine Government took the airline back into state control after acquiring 99.4% of the share capital for an undisclosed price. The remaining 0.6% continues to be owned by the company's employees. In September 2008, Argentina's Senate approved the nationalization of Aerolíneas Argentinas and its subsidiary Austral Líneas Aéreas on a 46–21 vote in favor of the takeover.
In June 2010 The new livery resembles the colour blue of Argentina's flag and the colour yellow of the sun. As its subsidiary airline, Austral also adopted the new image. Austral's livery actually differs from the Aerolíneas Argentinas' one by a red cheatline only. In the meantime the airline also announced the incorporation of 20 new Embraer 190 to its fleet, receiving the first two of them in September 2010.Aerolíneas Argentinas launched a new paint scheme to revamp the airline's image.
The Federal Corridor (Spanish: Corredor Federal), is a two-way route linking the cities of Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Iguazú, Mendoza and Salta. Although the corridor is commercially ran by Aerolíneas Argentinas, the route is operated using Austral equipment.
Austral Líneas Aéreas underwent a major fleet renewal. In 2009, the company signed a contract with Embraer for the purchase of 20 Embraer 190s, in a deal worth US$600 million that was 85% financed by BNDES. Two more E-190s were ordered in April 2013 ; the first of these two aircraft was incorporated into the fleet in September 2013 .
The airline's fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of August 2016):
Austral previously operated the following equipment:
|Date||Location||Aircraft||Tail number||Aircraft damage||Fatalities||Description||Refs|
|16 January 1959||Mar del Plata||C-46 Commando||LV-GED||W/O||51/52||The aircraft was operating a domestic scheduled Buenos Aires–Mar del Plata passenger service as Flight 205. It crashed into the sea 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) off the coast after a missed approach to the airport of destination.|||
|17 December 1969||Buenos Aires||C-46 Commando||LV-GEB||W/O||0/2||One of the engines ran out of fuel at climbout after an improper selection of the fuel pump. The pilots managed to land the plane in a nearby sports field. The aircraft was operating a cargo service.|||
|4 December 1973||Bahía Blanca||BAC 1–11 500||LV-JNR||W/O||0/74||Experienced a loss of power in an engine immediately after takeoff from Comandante Espora Airport. The pilots made a forced landing using the remaining length of the runway. Arresting cables deployed on it were unable to stop the aircraft, and damaged the fuel tanks as they broke off. Despite sparks igniting the fuel, all occupants managed to escape unharmed from the aircraft.|||
|21 November 1977||Bariloche||BAC 1–11 400||LV-JGY||W/O||46/79||The airplane was operating a chartered Buenos Aires–San Carlos de Bariloche passenger service as Flight 9, when it suffered pressurization problems during climbout to 35,000 feet (11,000 m). It flew the route despite this, although at a lower flight level. On approach to San Carlos de Bariloche Airport the aircraft collided with the ground, 21 kilometres (13 mi) east of the destination city.|||
|7 May 1981||Buenos Aires||BAC 1–11 500||LV-LOX||W/O||[note 1]31/31||The aircraft was operating a scheduled domestic Tucumán–Buenos Aires passenger service as Flight 901. Crashed into the Río de la Plata amid stormy weather while on approach to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east-southeast of the airfield.|||
|12 June 1988||Posadas||MD-81||N1003G||W/O||22/22||Crashed on final approach to Posadas Airport after hitting trees in low visibility. Was operating a scheduled Resistencia–Posadas service as Flight 46.|||
|10 October 1997||Nuevo Berlín||DC-9-32||LV-WEG||W/O||74/74||Crashed while en route from Posadas to Buenos Aires operating Flight 2553 after entering a storm. The likely cause of the accident was the icing of the pitot tubes. It remains the deadliest one experienced by the carrier all through its history.|||
Aerolineas is now close to completing a rejuvenation of its entire narrowbody fleet, focussing on Boeing 737NGs at its mainline operation and E190s at its Austral subsidiary.
Aerolíneas Argentinas S.A., with legal domicile in:Rafael Obligado Avenue N / N, Terminal 4, 6th floor, Jorge Newbery Airport (Aeroparque), Autonomous City of Buenos Aires
Argentina's flag carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas, has dismissed all 561 of its pilots after they went on indefinite strike on July 1.
Concern had been expressed during the tender period that if the Iberia consortium was successful it would monopolise domestic routes. One of Iberia's main partners, Cielos del Sur, owns Austral, Argentina's largest private domestic airline.
Argentine Senate authorized the renationalization of Aerolineas Argentinas by a 46–21 vote.
Embraer also signed a contract with Argentina's Austral Lineas Aereas for the sale of 20 E-190s.
According to the tender, Austral's fleet includes a 1988-vintage MD-81 aircraft (MSN 48025), along with two 1989-vintage MD-83 aircraft (MSNs 49630 and 49784) and two 1990-vintage MD-83 aircraft (MSNs 49906 and 49934).
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