UPDATE 1-LAN Argentina appeals eviction from Aeroparque hangar
BUENOS AIRES/SANTIAGO Aug 26 (Reuters) - Santiago-based LATAM Airlines, the biggest carrier in Latin America, went to court in Argentina on Monday to appeal its eviction from a hangar at a downtown Buenos Aires airport.
A spokesman for the airline said local unit LAN Argentina had filed the court challenge, but declined further comment on the case. The standoff has raised tensions with neighboring Chile, home of the airline's major shareholders, which once included billionaire Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.
Two unions for Argentine airline employees pledged a strike on Thursday affecting flights throughout the country, as they blamed the government's decision for risking some 1,500 jobs.
Argentina's airport regulator said last Tuesday that LAN had 10 days to vacate the hangar at the Aeroparque Jorge Newbery because it was not a state airline. LAN is the main competitor of Argentina's flagship carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas, which was nationalized in 2008.
LATAM, formed in a merger last year between Chile's LAN and Brazil's TAM, has said the decision puts the airline's domestic Argentine operations at risk.
The government's move has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity between the South American neighbors and created another headache for LATAM, which is already struggling with fallout from Brazil's weakening economy.
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