Aerolineas Argentinas partners BQB after decision to not buy ex-Pluna CRJs

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Argentina's state-owned SkyTeam member airline Aerolineas Argentinas has signed a code share agreement with Uruguay's BQB Lineas Aereas, marking a departure from its previous strategy of blocking competitors' access to its core markets.

The agreement, which has already received the go-ahead from Argentina's civil aviation authority ANAC, will allow Aerolineas to put its code on BQB flights between Buenos Aires Aeroparque and Montevideo as well as Punta del Este.

BQB will be allowed to put its code on connecting flights to five domestic destinations operated by Aerolineas Argentinas, as well as to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre in Brazil, Asuncion in Paraguay and Santiago de Chile. The air shuttle between Aeroparque and Montevideo will be operated jointly by both carriers.

According to a source at the transport ministry in Montevideo, BQB has abandoned its plan to acquire seven ex-Pluna Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft, a process for which it had used Spain's Cosmo as an intermediary. "In exchange, Aerolineas Argentinas is awarding BQB with access to its network through this commercial alliance," he says.

One of the causes of the bankruptcy of Uruguay's Pluna in June was Argentina's refusal to award Pluna with access to several Argentinean markets. However, Aerolineas Argentinas has changed its strategy since then and has signed commercial alliances with Rosario-based regional carrier Sol Lineas Aereas and now with BQB.