In addition to international air service, Argentina has a wide network of domestic airports and a handful of airlines centered on Buenos Aires; to fly between Argentine cities, more often than not it’s unavoidable to change planes in BA. Most of these use Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, the city airport, but some use the international airport at Ezeiza.
Aerolíneas Argentinas has domestic as well as international flights, while its affiliate Austral (the distinction between the two is vague) serves exclusively Argentine destinations from Jujuy and Puerto Iguazú in the north to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.
LAN Argentina, an affiliate of Chile’s LAN, has an expanding route system that includes Salta, Tucumán, San Juan, Córdoba, Mendoza, Puerto Iguazú, Neuquén, Comodoro Rivadavia, El Calafate, Río Gallegos, Ushuaia, and Bariloche.
Other domestic airlines come and go, with the exception of Líneas Aéreas del Estado (LADE, www.lade.com.ar), the air force’s heavily subsidized commercial-aviation branch. Miraculously surviving budget crises and privatizations, it flies to southern Buenos Aires Province and out-of-the-way Patagonian destinations on a wing and a subsidy.
Airfares fell with the 2002 devaluation and have remained reasonable, though foreigners are not eligible for discount fares available to Argentine citizens and residents. This means, in effect, that foreigners are paying full Y-class fares, but this also means greater flexibility in purchasing one-way cabotaje tickets and “open jaws” routes that land at one city and return from another, and to mix and match airlines.
Typical Aerolíneas Argentinas destinations, with one-way fares from Aeroparque, include Bariloche (US$215), Córdoba (US$122), El Calafate (US$248), Puerto Iguazú (US$156), Mar del Plata (US$133), Mendoza (US$156), Salta (US$190), Trelew (US$146), and Ushuaia (US$262). Fares can be either higher or lower, though, depending on date, time, and advance purchase.
Available only in conjunction with international travel to Buenos Aires, Aerolíneas Argentinas’s “Visit Argentina” pass gives discounts to foreigners and nonresident Argentines who arrange their itinerary in advance. Passengers arriving on Aerolíneas get bigger discounts, but the pass requires considerable planning to eke out maximum advantage.
LAN Argentina, an affiliate of Chile’s flagship airline, serves fewer destinations but does not discriminate against foreign passengers. Andes Líneas Aéreas is a new carrier that flies from Aeroparque to Córdoba, Salta and Jujuy, Puerto Iguazú, and Puerto Madryn.
LADE, which flies smaller, older planes and makes many stops, is known for bargain-basement fares; from Buenos Aires, for instance, Bariloche costs just US$162. It is infamous, though, for unreliability in making and honoring reservations, and in keeping to its schedules.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition