Aerolineas Argentinas under the control of the Spanish tourism consortium Marsans cancelled this week the third and final payment of its 169,2 million US dollars October 2001 agreement with creditors.
"It must be underlined that the original debt under discussion was 393,9 million US dollars, but following an agreement with creditors, a 60% release was granted", said an official communiqué from the company.
The agreement reached with creditors indicated that the first payment equivalent to 10% of the re-scheduled debt had to be paid March 2003; 35% in December 2003 and the remaining 55% December 2004.
In the release Aerolineas Argentinas points out that the company honoured its commitments with creditors thanks to "the important financial effort" from Grupo Marsans-Air Comet which also supplied the operational capital needed to keep it flying. In June 2001 the company was technically bankrupt, that is with out any chances of "economic, financial or operational" recovery because of the "succession of several unsuccessful administrations".
The release was thus referring to Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier, which first purchased Aerolineas in 1990 and then passed it on to American Airlines that managed the company for some time before it was sold to the Spanish government Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (a kind of Spanish Development Corporation).
Finally Aerolineas was transferred to the Marsans tourism group in October 2001.
"The continuity of the company in those very special times only was possible because of the resistance of its staff to shut down the Argentine flag carrier, as well as the open support of the Argentine public opinion", acknowledged CEO Antonio Mata.
"After decades of losses", in the last two years Aerolineas has managed to make a profit and at the same time recovered all aircrafts that had been under embargo for pending debts, highlighted Mr. Mata.
"From annual sales of 400 million US dollars we've jumped to over 900 million in 2004, with an operational profit of 50 million US dollars", concluded Aerolineas CEO.