Pilots are back to work in Argentina airports after a strike that lasted for about three hours, but the chaos isn’t over for passengers in both Aeroparque "Jorge Newbery" and the Ezeiza international airport. Dozens of flights were delayed, cancelled or redirected due to the standstill, and flight times won’t be back to normal until Friday morning.
The Argentine Association of Airline Pilots (APLA) initiated a strike at 6:00 AM Thursday morning in response to a Transport Ministry resolution that would grant licenses to foreign pilots to fly in national territory. Union members said the resolution would benefit low cost airlines with more flexible service, and allow the government to substitute Argentine pilots with foreigner labour during any union strikes, and generally undermine the rights of Argentine pilots.
“The National Administration of Civil Aviation’s (ANAC) wants to open our sky to foreign pilots so that they could substitute us while we are exercising our constitutional right to strike," union organisers said in a statement.
APLA announced Wednesday night that a 48-hour strike would protest the Resolution 895/18, which would grant foreign pilots licenses for work at Argentine National Airlines. To avert a two-day shutdown, the government stepped down from the resolution in an emergency meeting held at 8:00 AM Thursday morning.
“We were informed that Resolution 895/18 would be repealed, and that ANAC would reverse the approval of of foreign pilot licenses. Thus, the total strike was lifted, and normal activity has resumed,” APLA said of the meeting in a statement.
Argentina's aviation and tourism sectors have experienced major changes since early 2018, with the arrival of "low-cost" carriers like FlyBondi and Norwegian Air. Pilots have expressed concerned about both the changing industry and real wage loss during the country’s period of rampant inflation.
In November 2018, Argentina's state-owned airline Aerolineas Argentinas had to cancel over 370 flights, affecting tens of thousands of passengers, because of a strike initiated by the company's pilots and other staff just days before the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires.
In their statement Thursday, ANAC made clear that Argentine pilots will refuse to let the government violate labor rights in future legislation.
“We are not willing to give away our present rights or mortgage our future. We have no doubt that we will continue to face challenges. We will eliminate any obstacles that arise, however difficult this may be,” ANAC wrote.