Colombia’s largest airline Avianca on Thursday announced they will reduce their daily flights by 3.5% as negotiations with ‘striking’ pilots continue.
In a statement released by the airline, they announced their decision to adjust their flight schedule until the end of October as almost 1,000 of their pilots are refusing to work overtime. “Operation no overtime” began a week ago after the pilots’ union Acdac failed to reach an agreement with Avianca over a pay rise.
The 120 daily international flights will not be affected by the changes to the flight schedule, but some of Avianca’s 331 domestic flights will be, especially the most popular routes between the main cities of Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Barranquilla. Avianca flies to 100 different national and international destinations.
Negotiations between the pilots and the airline began on Tuesday, mediated by the Minster for Work, Rafael Pardo Rueda, and Deputy Minister for Labor Relations, Jose Noe Rios, and attended by Avianca’s owner, Germán Efromovich. But in the three meetings so far completed there has been little progress.
Eframovich has been accused by 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.
Newspaper El Universal reports that the desired salary increase is 25% for pilots and 27.93% for co-pilots, increases described by Avianca’s President Fabio Villegas as “exorbitant” and “impossible.”
Between Friday and Wednesday the airline cancelled 160 flights, and many passengers have suffered delays of up to 6 hours. All of the flight changes will be published on Avianca’s website.
Negotiations will continue on Monday.
- Press release (Avianca)
- Avianca anuncia plan de ajuste en vuelos diarios (Semana)
- Sin acuerdo finalizó la tercera reunión por conflicto de Avianca (El Universal)