Argentina Advances Major Aviation Deregulation with New Decree

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The Argentine government has officially launched a series of transformative reforms that aim to revolutionize the aviation industry through Decree 599/2024. Published in the Official Gazette, these reforms aim to deregulate the Argentine Commercial Aviation market, promising significant impacts on the industry and its regulatory framework.

Key Changes Introduced by Decree 599/2024

  1. Free Market Access: The new regulations promote free access to any airport for new exploiters, encouraging fair competition, deregulation of tariffs, and freedom in the allocation and fixing of frequencies. This change aims to foster a more competitive and dynamic market.
  2. Airport Services and Ground Handling: The decree authorizes companies to operate airport and ramp services, eliminating previous limitations. Operators can now either set up their ground services or delegate them to third parties, addressing a long-standing demand from low-cost carriers, currently forced to self-service or to be provided by Intercargo, the state-owned handling operator, that is expected to be privatized.
  3. Simplified Authorization for Smaller Aircraft: A simplified procedure has been established for non-regular transport using aircraft with up to 19 seats. This change supports creating a feeder system that complements trunk routes served by larger aircraft, enhancing connectivity across the country.
  4. End of Public Hearings: The National Civil Aviation Administration will no longer hold public hearings for route applications. Operators can now request routes directly, with a 30-day response period from the government. The application is automatically approved if no objections are raised within this period.
  5. Declaration Requirements for Airport Services: Companies must submit a sworn statement detailing their capabilities, business plan, locations, and personnel to obtain an Airport Services Operator Certificate. The processing time for this certificate has been significantly reduced.
  6. Work Air Services and CETA: The decree introduces the requirement for an Air Work Operator Certificate (CETA) while excluding private general aviation cost-shared flights from this requirement.
  7. Foreign Companies: Domestic flight authorizations for foreign companies (Under the 8th and 9th Freedoms of the Air) will be granted under strict reciprocity, aligning with existing bilateral agreements. Currently, only Chile and Uruguay would be allowed to operate continuous or autonomous cabotage in Argentina.
  8. Codeshare, Interline, and Joint Ventures: The decree mandates the prior presentation of codeshare, interline, and joint venture agreements for approval. These agreements will be automatically approved within 15 working days unless objections are raised.
  9. Temporary and Permanent Capacity Assignment Regulations: The decree calls for the creation of temporary and permanent regulations for capacity and frequency assignment, based on IATA’s Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines and ACI principles.
  10. Tariff Deregulation: The decree eliminates tariff bands, repealing previous regulations re-implemented by earlier administrations, even though the last reinstatement of the bands (December 2021) was never enforced.

With these sweeping changes, Argentina embarks on a path of deregulation of the aviation market that promises to reshape the industry. The coming months will reveal how these reforms impact the sector and address the challenges ahead.

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