Struggling Argentine airline, Aerolineas Argentinas S.A., began 2000 with a seagull in its engine, after Standard & Poor's downgraded its "Aerocard" ticket receivables securitization program. The rating agency knocked the two deals issued under the program by a huge five notches from A-minus on the local scale to BB citing Aerolineas' deep financial troubles.

"We believe that the deterioration in Aerolineas' creditworthiness and financial outlook, and the adverse macroeconomic factors that it had to face during 1999, puts its operating capacity into question," explained Juan Pablo de Mollein, analyst with S&P in Buenos Aires.

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