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Goodbye Penguins: Austral Líneas Aéreas Brand Disappears After Merge

Austral 190 in Formosa Airport, 2017. (Photo: Edgardo Gimenez Mazó)

At midnight on Monday, after the landing of flight AU2763, Austral Lineas Aereas operations officially ended. The brand will disappear tomorrow, Dec. 1, when the merger with Aerolíneas Argentinas is completed and it begins to operate under the callsign “Argentina.” The merger process began, after a series of unsuccessful attempts in previous years, in the first days of May this year. At that time and through a letter addressed to staff from Pablo Ceriani, the CEO of Aerolíneas Argentinas, as per Aviacionline, stated that the merger was seeking “greater operational rationality,” eliminating the duplicated management structure.

Austral Líneas Aéreas was founded in 1971 after the fusion between Aerotransportes Litoral Argentino and Austral Compañía Argentina de Transportes Aéreos, which in turn weree founded in 1956 and 1957 respectively. At the time, it was one of the few global operators of the NAMC YS-11, and it also operated the more popular BAC 1-11.

Austral Líneas Aéreas NAMC YS-11A, circa April 1972. (Photo: RuthAS, Wikimedia Commons)

Nationalized under Argentina’s military junta coercion in 1980 and privatized again in 1987, it ran as a private enterprise until it conformed a pool with Spanish investment venture SEPI to bid for Aerolíneas Argentina privatization process. Under the Iberia administration, both Aerolíneas and Austral were joined into a group and, from that moment on, they shared their destiny.

After the appalling mismanagement of Iberia, in which the Argentinian companies were on the verge of technical bankruptcy,  the shares were sold to Marsans Group in 2001. After seven years, it was finally repossessed by the Argentinian state in 2008. Its McDonnell Douglas MD-83 fleet was decommissioned and 24 Embraer 190AR were bought directly to the Brazilian builder. Two extra 190s were added later, to complete a fleet of 26 aircraft.

An Austral Lineas Aéreas’ Embraer 190AR with Skyteam Livery. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Pablo Diaz)

The Embraer 190AR fleet will be gradually repainted under the Aerolíneas Argentinas scheme, although there is already an agreement to apply livery to four aircraft in the fleet using funds owed by state-owned MRO FAdeA per Aviacionline. Only one aircraft of the 26 will retain the current livery, although the Austral brand will be replaced by Aerolíneas: the LV-FPS, painted with the Skyteam alliance scheme.

Both pilots and technical staff, as well as the MRO structure, will be integrated into Aerolíneas Argentinas’ roster. The simulators and training facilities were already integrated into Aerolíneas Group CEFEPRA. The callsign “Austral” is to be removed and the “Penguin” nickname will remain as a memory of one of Argentina’s foundational airlines.

Pablo Diaz


  • Pablo Diaz

    Since a little kid, Pablo set his passions in order: aviation, soccer, and everything else. He has traveled to various destinations throughout South America, Asia, and Europe. Technology and systems expert, occasional spotter, not-so-dynamic midfielder, blogger, husband, father of three cats; he believes that Latin America's aviation industry past, present, and future offer a lot of stories to be told.

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