February 1, 2017 / 10:12 PM / a year ago

Aerolineas Argentinas aims for 12 pct more passengers in 2017-CEO

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Aerolineas Argentinas, Argentina’s state-run airline, hopes to attract 12 percent more passengers in 2017 and offer more flights, the company’s new chief executive said on Wednesday.

“We want to streamline Aerolineas, improve processes, make it profitable,” said Mario Dell’Acqua, who took over as the airline’s CEO in December.

The number of passengers aboard the national airline increased 9 percent in 2016, the first full year of center-right President Mauricio Macri’s government.

Since taking office, Macri has sought to cut subsidies to energy and transportation sectors favored by his predecessor Cristina Fernandez, who nationalized Aerolíneas Argentinas in 2008.

Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich said at the same event that subsidies to the airline would be cut by nearly half this year to $166 million from $300 million in 2016, helping the government’s efforts to narrow the fiscal deficit.

The government plans to end subsidies to the airline completely by 2019.

Aerolineas may soon face some fresh competition as the government is evaluating proposals from five budget carriers aiming to operate in Argentina, while others have expressed interest. (Reporting by Eliana Raszewski, writing by Caroline Stauffer, editing by G Crosse)

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