Colombia investigates why flights still canceled after strike

Colombia’s civil aviation agency is examining why top airline Avianca and other domestic carriers continue to cancel a relatively large number of flights even after the resolution of a labor dispute that was supposedly the cause of the cancellations.

A spokeswoman at the agency, Aerocivil, on Wednesday confirmed by telephone reports in the local media that the agency was launching the investigation. She said all airlines would be examined, though she acknowledged Avianca has been responsible for the majority of the recent cancellations.

Avianca, which handles more than half of all Colombia’s commercial air traffic and is the main carrier of the airline group AviancaTaca Holding SA (PFAVTA.BO), canceled 150 flights between Feb. 15 and Feb. 19, and said at the time that labor disruptions by air traffic controllers who were seeking higher wages from the government were a main cause.

The government resolved the labor dispute Sunday night, but since then Avianca has canceled several dozen more flights. Other airlines have seen delays on many flights, but very few cancellations.

An official at Avianca said Wednesday with the labor dispute resolved, the main factors for cancellations are now a lack of adequate airport infrastructure and bad weather.

After the labor dispute ended Sunday, Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon hinted that flight problems might continue, saying any more delays “can no longer be blamed on the controllers.” He said remaining delay issues are related to “weather factors, infrastructure projects at airports [and] the efficiency of airlines.”

Colombia has seen a sharp rise in air traffic in recent years due to a growing economy and an increase in foreign visitors after a reduction in violence related to its five-decade-old civil conflict with illegal armed groups.

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