Aeroméxico strike delayed as negotiations continue

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Aeronéxico pilots are threatening a strike on Wednesday. Photo: Cuartoscuro

A strike that would have grounded Aeromexico planes on Monday was delayed when the Association of Airline Pilots (ASPA) agreed to a request from federal Labor Secretary Roberto Campa to defer the work stoppage for 48 hours.

That means the pilot strike could begin at midnight Wednesday, Oct. 3. It leaves two days for negotiations over contracts for pilots who joined the company in the past eight years.

ASPA rejected Aeroméxico’s proposal late Sunday, giving pilots employed after 2010 salaries and benefits 40 percent lower than their more senior colleagues.

The union agreed to so-called “Contract B” agreements when the global financial crisis was still affecting the airline industry in 2010, but they maintain that today, economic conditions have rebounded to a point that the airline should halt the wage and benefits disparity.

But today the pilots believe that the economic situation of the sector — and Aeroméxico — is completely different from eight years ago and that the wage and benefits disparity should end.

“The dissatisfaction, anger and frustration of pilots on B contracts is real and in the face of the refusal of the company to grant adjustments . . . the [union] assembly rejected in their totality the terms of the negotiation,” ASPA said.

Tensions began in September when the airline decided to suspend some employee benefits after a July crash in northern Mexico.

ASPA members unanimously agreed to strike after pilot benefits were revoked.

Mexico’s civil aviation agency said bad weather likely caused the crash and found no evidence of human error or mechanical failures. But a pilot in training, who was not authorized by the company, briefly served as copilot during the takeoff.

In response, Mexico’s largest airline last week said it had fired the three pilots who were in the cabin and announced new rules for crew, including the elimination of a provision that allowed pilots to fly in the cabin for free.

ASPA said that the provision is critical for pilots who use it to travel from their homes to the airline’s base.

On July 31, a Mexico City-bound Embraer 190 passenger jet operated by Aeroméxico smashed into scrubland near the runway shortly after take-off during strong winds, hail and rain.

All 103 passengers and crew survived by evacuating from the plane before it was engulfed by flames.

Among its 600 daily flights, Aeroméxico flies between Mérida and Mexico City and has a code-share with Delta Airlines.

On Twitter, Aeroméxico announced Monday that all its flights are still on schedule.

Sources: El Financiero, Reuters

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