May 11, 2017 / 1:48 PM / a year ago

Argentina approves airline Avianca's entry into local market

BUENOS AIRES, May 11 (Reuters) - Avianca has received a 15-year concession to operate in Argentina, according to a notice in the government’s official gazette on Thursday, after a probe of a possible conflict of interest involving the airline and President Mauricio Macri.

In March an investigation was opened into whether Macri had favored the Colombia airline in a plan to open more routes. His father’s company sold another airline to Avianca last year.

Argentina’s Anti-corruption Office, known by its Spanish initials OA, said this week that it had found no conflict of interest.

“The concession is for 15 years,” according to the gazette.

Macri, elected in 2015 on promises of attracting much-needed investment in Argentina, wants a more competitive airline market to help drive down the cost of doing business in the country.

The president, scion of one of Argentina’s richest families, was also criticized earlier this year over a deal his government reached to resolve a 15-year old debt the postal service incurred when it was owned by his father. Prosecutors claimed the deal benefited his family.

Macri said the deal was legal but revoked it anyway and apologized for a lack of transparency. (Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Paul Simao)

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