Business & Economy

Pilots’ strike delays flights at Brazil’s main airports

Rio de Janeiro, Dec 19 (EFE).- The strike by Brazilian airline pilots and crewmembers for two hours per day for an as yet undetermined period to demand better pay resulted on Monday, its first day, in delaying about 20 flights at the country’s main airports.

The pilots, copilots and flight attendants halted their activities between 6 am and 8 am at the airports in eight of the South American giant’s major cities, as per a strike to demand pay increases and better working conditions.

The strike caused a number of flights to be delayed and others to be cancelled but did not result in long lines of passengers at the airports due to a court decision obligating the Airline Workers Union of Brazil to keep 90 percent of its personnal on the job.

Amid otherwise relatively normal operations at the airports, groups of strikers staged small protests at the terminals to make their demands known.

Administrators at Sao Paulo’s international airport, the country’s biggest air hub and the one most heavily affected by the work stoppage, had to delay a dozen flights that would have departed from Brazil’s largest city.

At Sao Paulo’s Congonhas terminal for regional flights, 16 flights had to be delayed.

At the Rio de Janeiro airports, administrators at the international Galeao terminal delayed three flights and officials at Santos Dumond cancelled two and delayed five.

The strike also affected flights in the cities of Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Fortaleza and Campinas.

According to the concessionaires managing the airports affected by the strike, the situation had gotten back to normal an hour after the end of the work stoppage.

The pilots are demanding that their salaries be adjusted to take account of last year’s inflation, which was about 8 percent, and that they be provided with an additional real wage increase of 5 percent.

Regarding the last proposal, and after three months of negotiations, the National Airline Union representing the country’s airlines, offered to adjust salaries according to inflation and to offer a real pay hike of 0.5 percent, a proposal that was rejected by 76.4 percent of the members of the workers’ union.

The pilots claim that their salaries were not increased in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, which left aircraft on the ground for seveal weeks and caused millions of dollars in losses to the airlines, but they say that the firms are now recovering and making money by charging higher air fares to passengers.

According to the unions, the minimum salary for a commercial airline pilot in Brazil is 9,400 reais (about $1,808) per month and a flight attendant earns 2,277 reais (about $438).

The strikers are also demanding that their days off be respected, along with an increase in the time they can rest and relax between flights.

Pilots and crewmembers are threatening to stick to their two-hours-per-day strike until they can strike a deal with the airline union.

EFE cm/eat/bp

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