Colombia’s largest airline Avianca has cancelled 160 flights, scheduled to leave between Friday and Wednesday, because of their pilots’ “strike”.
The airline’s pilots are refusing to work overtime in an an action called “operacion cero trabajo suplementario” (“operation no overtime”), after Avianca’s alleged intransigence over salary increases.
“The airline has adjusted its itnieraries for the days between Friday 13 and Wednesday September 18,” Avianca announced. “We have cancelled an aniticpated 160 flights corresponding to 3% of the weekly operation of the company.”
To mitigate the effects of the protest Avianca announced that they have made their flight schedule more flexible, increasing time between flights, they will be allowing customers to fly with other airlines when their flights has been cancelled, as well as removing the charge on changing or cancelling flights for affected customers.
This last measure only applies for those flights operated by Avianca itself, and not for other companies in the airline’s group like Taca, Aerogal and Tampa Cargo, whose pilots are not taking part in the protest.
“Our most basic objective is to keep everything running as best we can while we look for a resolution to the current problems between the administration and the pilots,” Avianca said on Thursday.
The airline’s pilots are expected to meet next Tuesday with government officials, including Vice President Angelino Garzon, as well as with Avianca’s owner Germán Efromovich.
Eframovich has been accused by the pilots union Acdac of going back on his word. The pilots say that in 2003, after Eframovich bought the company, they agreed to work longer hours (90 per month, instead of 75) to move the airline forward, with the benefits coming later. But Acdac say they are still waiting for those long-promised benefits.
Key to their demands is a salary increase that they say will put them in the same pay bracket as pilots at other major airlines.
“It’s not possible that a pilot with 18 years of experience from Aerolineas Argentinas, LAN and Avianca Peru earns $10,000 per month, one from Aeromexico $16,000, while in Colombia the Avianca pilots earn half that,” said Acdac’s president, Jaime Hernandez.
As a result of the delays some passengers in the Caribbean city of Cartagena had to wait 6 hours on Friday to fly to Bogota, acoording to newspaper El Espectador.
Colombia’s Ministry of Work has asked Avianca’s pilots to “return to working normally.”
- Avianca anunció cancelación de 160 vuelos hasta el miércoles (El Tiempo)
- Efromovich, a la mesa (El Espectador)
- Pese a protesta de pilotos no hay congestiones en el José María Córdova (El Colombiano)
- ¿Por qué protestan los pilotos de Avianca? (Semana)
- Avianca cancela más de 40 vuelos (Semana)