The government will remove the state company Intercargo the monopoly to provide ramp services to foreign airlines and will call for bids for national and foreign operators to compete. This Tuesday was the decree that deregulates the activity of this company, which today has about 1,700 employees.
The decree annuls the regulations that for more than a quarter of a century have assured Intercargo the exclusivity of this service for all the airlines operating in Argentina. Until very recently, the only exceptions to the rule were Aerolíneas / Austral (the service is provided by its controlled Aerohandling) and the American American Airlines, which in the ’90s made use of a decree of exception of Menem and Cavallo to avoid Intercargo, who at that time Cavallo accused of being one of the companies controlled by Alfredo Yabrán
In the case of Intercargo, the almost exclusive guild within the company is the Association of Aeronautical Personnel, headed by Edgardo Llano, who in turn is the authority of the Kirchnerist CTA headed by Hugo Yasky. Official sources admitted that the government’s initiative may generate rejection within the union, which in turn integrates the United Aeronautics Unions front, the same that led the string of strikes against Aerolíneas Argentinas during November.
But the same official sources remarked that in fact Intercargo’s monopoly was already being dismantled little by little with a series of measures. In addition to the historical exceptions of Airlines and American, for a year ago the “low cost” Flybondi began to self-serve the ramp service in El Palomar and other airports in the interior. And since a few days ago, through another official resolution, foreign airlines that have their subsidiary in Argentina were enabled to “self-service” ramps. This possibility reaches companies such as LATAM, Norwegian, Avianca and JetSmart. But it continues to maintain, as mandatory customers of Intercargo, the score of foreign airlines that land in Argentina without a local subsidiary.
At the same time, enabling ramp self-service is not synonymous with all airlines running out to build their own structure. Without going any further, American Airlines will start in June to fly from Cordoba to Miami and its directors have already announced that Intercargo will be hired at the Mediterranean airport. “With four weekly flights it is not justified to build a complete structure of personnel and equipment,” American regional director Gonzalo Schames told Clarín last week.
“The Intercargo operation actually improved a lot, in 2015 the company had a deficit of 2.1 million dollars and last year, on the other hand, closed with a surplus of more than six million dollars,” the official sources added. . “In addition, operating costs dropped between 20% and 25% compared to three years ago, but we still have the most expensive operations in the region.”
An official study shows that, taking as an example a 200 passenger Boeing 767 aircraft, the cost of the ramp service at Ezeiza Airport is 2,600 dollars, against less than US $ 1,400 in Brazil and less than US $ 700 in Colombia. “There is much to improve, both in the price charged to airlines and in the service provided to passengers,” the sources added.