Unpaid Interjet workers go on strike at Merida airport

The budget airline Interjet has fallen on rough times. Photo: File

Hanging red-and-black employee union flags at Merida’s Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport, workers for the beleaguered Interjet airline staged a labor strike to demand back pay. 

Union members also took similar actions at airports in México City, Toluca and Cancún. 

Among the demonstrators are Interjet pilots, flight attendants and other airline employees who have not received wages or benefits for over four months. The company has also failed to meet its obligations with fuel providers and Méxican tax authorities. 

Union leaders said that Interjet’s failure to comply with the law should compel authorities to seize the airline to guarantee the rights of its workers. For the most part, social media comments have reflected solidarity with Interjet’s employees.

In mid-December, Interjet announced the cancelation of the remainder of its flights for 2020. That same week, the International Air Transport Association kicked Interjet out of its association.

However, well before the airline’s current difficulties, analysts expressed concern regarding the future of the airline, due in part to the 15-year-old airline’s over-reliance on debt and failure to reduce operation costs. 

“The current situation is regrettable,” the union said. “We see that there are no planes to fly and no real business plan to continue operating.”

For months, there has been a great deal of speculation regarding the future of Interjet, the once third-largest airline in Mexico behind Aeromexico and Volaris.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the airline was operating several domestic and international flights out of airports in cities such as Mexico City, Mérida and Cancun. 

Though struggling themselves, rivals Volaris and Aeromexico are attempting to fill the gap left by Interjet. According to Airline Geeks, in part due to a lack of domestic and international travel restrictions, Mexico’s aviation industry has performed better than expected since August.

There have been no reports of disruptions caused by the strike to flights operated by other airlines.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.