August 22 - LATAM Airlines Group says it is considering legal action after Argentine authorities ordered the carrier to vacate its hangar at Buenos Aires main domestic airport. Joanna Partridge reports.
This LAN plane at Buenos Aires airport could soon become a rare sight for passengers travelling within Argentina. LAN's parent company LATAM Airlines says the Argentine authorities have evicted it from its hangar at the capital's main domestic airport. The Chilean-Brazilian owned carrier says it hasn't been given a reason, and has 10 days to leave. LATAM is the region's largest airline within Argentina. It says if it can't use the hangar, its whole operation within the country is at risk. It's considering legal action. LATAM's local subsidiary LAN Argentina is the main competitor for state-owned Aerolineas Argentinas. LAN passengers are worried how it could affect them. SOUNDBITE: LAN ARGENTINA PASSENGER, MARIELA DEDE, SAYING (Spanish): "I work in tourism. I have a travel agency and the worst thing that could happen to our country right now would be if LAN no longer operated here. If that happened, it would add to everything that is going wrong here. I hope they'll change their minds because it will be chaotic for Argentine tourism." SOUNDBITE: LAN ARGENTINA PASSENGER, FERNANDO MARTINEZ, SAYING (Spanish): "If we want to open ourselves up to the world, and have exchange, we need companies like LAN. We need even more to come. We can't just leave it to Aerolineas Argentinas. They're good and they work well, but other airlines should come and compete. They're eliminating competition in a vicious way." The dispute about the hangar comes at a time LATAM airlines is cutting costs, and when Brazil's weak economy is weighing on its earnings. The carrier says this is just the latest action against its Argentine operations. In recent years, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has introduced protectionist trade policies and heavy regulation that has made the country an outcast in international markets.