Colombia’s Avianca airline has two weeks to resolve dispute: Pilots union

Posted on Mar 26 2014 - 1:23pm by Rico
Avianca aircraft (Photo: Wikipedia)

Colombia’s Avianca airline giant has two weeks to reach an agreement with its pilots or face possible strike action, reported local media on Wednesday morning.Talks between the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators (ACDAC) and Avianca resumed this past weekend after a Bogota court Friday gave the company a 48-hour deadline to recommence negotiations.

MORE: Colombia court orders Avianca to resume discussions with pilots union

“It’s such a basic list of demands, we are asking to give us time to have breakfast, lunch and eat because we do not have that today.”

- Jaime Hernandez (pilot)

The CEO of Colombia’s flag carrier and largest airline, Fabio Villegas, said the airline has been open to working with its pilots.

“In this case, the problem is because the pilots have different opinions with regard to the fulfillment of certain standard requirements. But, never, from company’s side, have we not tried to sit down and talk with the pilots,” he said.

Ongoing talks

In October of last year, a separate union reached an agreement with Avianca after 21 days of industrial action. The ACDAC, however, which represents 982 pilots, or 43% of Avianca’s piloting staff, walked away from negotiations empty handed. According to El Heraldo, the group opposed to the company’s offer represented a total of 35% of Avianca’s pilot workforce.

MORE: Pilots reach agreement with Avianca over salary increase

Captain Jaime Hernandez, president of ACDAC, said the pilots were asking only that the company meet basic requirements.

“In this case, the problem is because the pilots have different opinions with regard to the fulfillment of certain standard requirements. But, never, from company’s side, have we not tried to sit down and talk with the pilots.”

“We’re looking to have the compensation we should have for the job. Guarantees about fatigue, from the point of view of air safety, trying to protect our women who work long hours away from their children, and [assuring that] all work is recognized as such.

“It’s such a basic list of demands, we are asking to give us time to have breakfast, lunch and eat because we do not have that now,” Hernandez told the El Heraldo newspaper.

Avianca Group Soars

Possible industrial action could cloud Avianca’s recent return to financial success.

Villegas said Avianca SA Holdings last year achieved an increase in revenues of 8%, from $4.2 billion in 2012 to $4.6 billion in 2013. In this same period, operating costs increased by 5.9%. Net earnings were in the order of $234 million, 132.5% higher than those obtained in 2012, according to El Heraldo.

MORE: Colombia’s Avianca airline doubles group profit in 2 years

The airline group, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year and includes airlines in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, flew 24.6 million passengers last year, representing an increase of 6.6% compared to 2012.

Sources

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