After several weeks of conflict and the dramatic cancellation of strike action at the last moment, state-run carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas announced on Wednesday that it had reached an "agreement in principle" with the Association of Airline Pilots (APLA) pilots union.
"There is an agreement in principle between the airlines and APLA," union spokesman Juan Pablo Mazzieri told the Noticias Argentinas news agency. "We are not providing details we because there are other unions negotiating, but we can assure you that there is an agreement."
The accord is expected to be confirmed and endorsed by the Production Labour Ministry later today. However, negotiations with the Argentine Airline Union (UALA, representing workers at the Austral airline), led by union leaders Genaro Trucco and Cristián Erhardt, are still ongoing.
The talks come just barely a week after 48 hours of scheduled strike action was called off at last minute. The threatened stoppage, which would have seen pilots working for Aerolíneas Argentinas and Austral walk off the job at Ezeiza International Airport and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery last Saturday and Sunday, would have affected some 75,000 passengers.
Pilots unions came to their decision after presidential frontrunner Alberto Fernández, who had asked union leaders to call off the strike. Apart from the efforts of the Frente de Todos hopeful, the government had also sought to head off the strike, both at the level of the Production and Labour Ministry (which ordered compulsory conciliation) and Aerolíneas Argentinas, which held last-minute talks with the APLA and UALA unions (the latter representing Austral pilots).
Eventually, union leaders pulled the walkout, after the Production and Labour Ministry guaranteed some form of salary improvement.
The pilots are demanding urgent salary renegotiations in the wake of soaring inflation, which is expected to close at around 55 percent this year. Prices increased by 30 percent up until August while Aerolíneas pay hikes so far this year have totalled 23 percent. Union leaders say they are seeking a 32-percent raise to bridge this gap.
President Mauricio Macri has criticised the pilots unions, describing their demands as "a political strike" led by Kirchnerite-allied labour leaders.