Soon, travelers in Argentina, South America’s second-largest country, will be able to take a few more short flights.
High operating costs and state-mandated minimum prices have made domestic air travel difficult in the nation of 44 million people for years. The market is dominated the state-run Aerolineas Argentina. But Argentina’s government now says it will allow the country’s first budget airline, FlyBondi.
Seats on its leased Boeing 737s new budget flights will cost less than a bus ticket, FlyBondi’s chief executive Julian Cook, told the Wall Street Journal (paywall.) He expects flights to start in September.
A one-way bus ticket with a lie-flat bed between Buenos Aires and the wine-producing region of Mendoza costs 1,530 pesos (about $100) for a 16-hour trip. Currently, a seat on Aerolineas Argentinas starts at about $78 each way for the two-hour flight.
President Mauricio Macri has vowed to lift restrictions and help ease travel high costs as a way to help lift the country out of a yearslong recession. Last year, he said the country would open up 135 new airline routes in the country and announced that foreign tourists would be refunded a 21% value-added tax on hotel costs.
There are hurdles still to operating in an airline successfully in the country. Argentina requires pilots to be Argentines, for example, the WSJ notes, meaning staffing airplanes could be difficult.
But if successful, FlyBondi and other airlines eager to tap into the market, like Colombia’s Avianca, will make traveling in the country even more attractive. Travelers in Argentina will soon have more time to hike, savor a few extra glasses of Malbec and view the glaciers before they’re all gone.