I dont think he dropped his rates. He did tell me it is hard to know what is really going on as during a normal year it can be up and down quite a bit. An example is xmas, where he usually is full from the week before xmas, up until the week after new years, then it can be dead, 1/2 full or full, just depends on the year. Same with this time of year, can be dead as now, or busy with people passing through on way to warmer places like peru or brazil.. But he thinks the trend is a lot less tourists, and is the worst he has seen since before the 2000 crisis. He thinks swine flu fears, the financial crisis and the cost (inflation) of argentina now is all having an effect.
I myself find argentina expensive compared to NZ/AUS.. when i first arrived in 2007 is was cheaper. All this has happened since mid 2008, when NZ$ and AU$ dropped by 30 to 40% against the US$, which the peso didnt, and has only really started to drop in last six months, because the gov controls the value of the peso. Arg is a commodity exporting country like Aus, NZ, Brazil, South Africa and Canada, which all had big currency drops against the US$ due to commodity prices dropping. The peso didnt drop, so it became more expensive to travel here. The only consolation for me is that my flight from NZ in march 2008 was about (NZ$2300) US$ 1900 at the time, this year it was US$650 (NZ$1200), due to a lot less passengers and the drop in the NZ$ - it dropped from US$0.82 to US$0.50 in 6 months - has since recovered to around US$0.65. The peso went from around 3 to 3.20 pesos to the US$ in that same period.
The plane was also 1/2 full in march 2009, where last year it was full. This route from NZ is very popular with backpackers as they travel through Asia, then around Aus and NZ, then head to South America on their world tour.