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ARGENTINA | 26-12-2023 17:38

Fabián Lombardo, the new president of Aerolíneas Argentinas

Fabián Lombardo named as the new president of state airline Aerolíneas Argentinas, replacing Pablo Ceriani.

Aviation veteran Fabián Lombardo has been named as the new president of state airline Aerolíneas Argentinas, replacing the departing Pablo Ceriani.

The decision was confirmed at a meeting of the firm's board of directors on December 26. 

 

Lombardo has had an extensive career in the commercial aviation industry, working across multiple countries. He started at Varig, where he held multiple executive posts, being in charge of pricing management; revenue management and South American routes; and routes to Italy and the Middle East, Germany and Eastern Europe, and Chile, among others.

In 2009, after working as foreign sales director at Gol Linhas Aereas, he joined the Argentina's state airline as an international sales manager. He has held the post of commercial director since 2013.

He was also the representative for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay at Tap Air Portugal and Azul Linhas Aereas; and held the post of general manager for South America at the latter.

Starting in 2019, he became the Commercial, Planning and Route Management Director at Aerolíneas Argentinas.

Within the package of measures established by President Javier Milei, the Urgent Decree laid the grown for the privatisation of state-run companies, including Aerolíneas Argentinas.

The decree provides that this type of companies ought to become Corporations, pursuant to the system of the Companies Act. Article 48 of the Urgent Decree reads: “State-run companies, whatever the type or corporate form, shall become Corporations”.

Regardless of the general aspects under the Urgent Decree, Chapter II approaches Aerolíneas Argentinas directly. It will seek to replace Article 4 of Law No. 26,412, where it stresses that the State authorises “the transfer to employees of Aerolíneas Argentinas S.A. and Austral Líneas Aéreas - Cielos del Sur S.A. of up to TEN PERCENT (10%) of the share package of the respective companies, in accordance  with the Shared Property Programme”.

As published by Milei’s decree it establishes “the transfer, in whole or in part, of the share package” to the workers of both firms. At the same time, it repeals Article 9 of Law No. 26,412 where it provides that “in no event shall the State transfer the majority of the shares in the company, the capacity of strategic decision-making and the right to veto its decisions”.

According to the latest report of the General Auditor’s Office, the 2022 Financial Statements were closed with a loss of US$246 million. The report published on the website of the flagship carrier specifies that it was the best result since the State decided to take back control of Aerolíneas in 2008. It accounts for a reduction of the deficit by 43.7 percent compared to 2021 and 64 percent compared to 2019, when losses amounted to US$667 million.

However, so far this year, Aerolíneas transferred to the State 176 billion pesos, as against the 6 billion pesos it received from the 2022 budget. The national airline is projecting an annual balance with a US$32-million profit, having used 0 percent of the assigned budget. This would be the first time this was achieved since it was renationalised in 2008.

As part of the thorough inspection by the General Auditor’s Office, the Financial Statements of Aerolíneas Argentinas are reviewed by international consultancy KPMG. The latest balance sheet was approved by that firm without qualifications, something that did not happen since 2004.

“We have improved results year by year, even with the biggest global crisis in aviation history in between. We have a more efficient company, which generates direct and indirect income that benefit all. And we did it by opening new routes, flying more and adding new business units”, explained Pablo Ceriani, then head of Aerolíneas Argentinas.

It is also worth mentioning that in 2022, the company used 67 percent of the budget assigned by the State, or 47 mil billion pesos, which in turn accounts for 50 percent of what was received in 2021. At the same time, the company obtained an income of US$1.864 billion.

In said report published in April 2023, the company admitted it had received only 6 billion pesos for 2022, which had been accrued, but not transferred to the company. Therefore, it still has not used the item assigned for the current year. According to the 2023, a reduction of US$102 million is expected from the previous year.

Thus, as stated by the company on its website, Aerolíneas Argentina “not only requires less investment from the State, but has also reduced its stake in the national budget: as of 2023, Aerolíneas accounts for 0.31 percent of public expenditure, whereas in 2019 it was 0.48 percent”.

In addition, as published in 2022, the flagship carrier “contributed to the national and provincial treasuries to the tune of 109 billion pesos, by way of taxes, contributions and rates. Over twice as much as what it received, 128 percent."

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