25 de noviembre de 2015 / 15:51 / en 2 años

American Airlines stops accepting payments in Argentine pesos

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 25 (Reuters) - American Airlines has stopped accepting Argentine pesos to pay for tickets due to currency controls that make it hard to convert receipts into U.S. dollars, local media and one of the airline's sales agents said on Wednesday.

"That's the policy at this moment. It started two days ago," said an American Airlines sales agent contacted by Reuters.

A local spokesman for the airline, the world's largest, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Businesses have long complained about difficulty in accessing the currency exchange market in Argentina due to policies enacted by leftist President Cristina Fernandez, who will step down on Dec. 10 after two terms in office.

Conservative opposition candidate Mauricio Macri won Sunday's presidential election, promising to ditch trade and currency controls as part of a program of free-market reforms welcomed by big business.

Asked how long the prohibition, which includes cash and credit and debit card payments in pesos, would last, the American Airlines ticket agent said, "We don't know."

American Airlines, however, will continue accepting payments from customers in Argentina made on foreign credit cards, the agent said. Local media reported that ticket sales made before the airline's prohibition on Argentine cards would be honored.

The situation mirrors that in Venezuela where airlines have around $3.7 billion in ticket sales trapped because of the socialist nation's 12-year-old currency control system, the International Air Transport Association said in June.

"Venezuela and Argentina are at the top of a list of misguided policies and decisions that we are engaging governments across the region to reverse," IATA Chief Executive Officer Tony Tyler said in a speech to industry leaders in Puerto Rico earlier this month.

IATA, the trade association for the world's airlines, wants to discuss policy changes with the incoming Macri government.

"We are seeking to meet the new government as soon as it is in office to find a solution that will preserve connectivity and the vital economic benefits it brings," Tyler said.

Macri's transition team announced on Wednesday that JP Morgan's former global foreign exchange chief, Alfonso Prat-Gay, will be named finance minister. (Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in Caracas; Editing by Paul Simao)

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