‘Flight delays are the result of an illegal strike led by APTA union,’ De Vido


Planning Minister Julio de Vido accused the APTA technical personnel union of failing to abide by arbitration ordered by the Labour Ministry on Friday and blamed APTA leader Ricardo Cirielli for flight delays and cancellations which continued in several airports.

“These flights have been suspended due to a under covered and illegal strike conducted by Mr. Cirielli through the Aeronautical Technical Staff Association.”

Speaking to reporters, the minister called the measure “plain extortion”, and added, “The strike is absurd and unfair as it has no particular claim. We condemn this measure which violates the compulsory conciliation issued by the Labour Ministry.”

De Vido also said that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner “instructed to take all necessary administrative measures and resort to Justice for resuming basic and essential air travel service.”

Aerolíneas said in a communiqué that “delays and cancellations of flights scheduled for today respond exclusively to direct action in disguise launched by air traffic controllers and aeronautical staff despite the 15-day mandatory conciliation ordered by the Labour Ministry.”

“These workers, controllers and technicians respond to the Aeronautical Technical Personnel Association (APTA) leadership of Ricardo Cirielli,” the communiqué said, holding him “to blame for the inconveniences delayed or cancelled flights caused to passengers who are, once again, hostages of the direct action.”

Cirielli recalled that since the administration of Peronist President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner renationalized the airline, the state has spent about 2.1 billion dollars to maintain it. He also recalled that the firm has not been publishing financial reports and that its chairman Mariano Recalde should explain how the funds are being handled.

Flight delays and cancellations are the “exclusive consequence of technical problems and lack of personnel. Had they run the company in a better way over the past three years, we would not be having theses troubles today,” he said. He also said that APTA is asking the state to invest about 70 million dollars to industrialize and repair engines and aviation equipment, tasks that, he added, today are currently are being carried out abroad.

He said that in Iguazú, in Misiones province, controllers come down from the control tower when there are strong winds out of fear that it may collapse and in El Calafate, in Santa Cruz — the home province of Fernández de Kirchner’s late husband and predecessor Néstor Kirchner — the control tower has no toilet and controllers need to resort to a bucket for their physiological needs.

Cirielli said that Aerolíneas has not revealed a “fleet policy” and that it just changes used aircraft for other used planes, but doesn’t buy any new planes.

Separately, the head of the Airline Pilots Association union (APLA) Jorge Pérez Tamayo warned that Aerolíneas “may not be viable” if there are no management changes, a criticism with which Cirielli agreed.

The government suggested that there could be links between the criticism from APLA and APTA, but Cirielli said that although the two unions have not talked to each other for a long time, “this does not mean that we may not agree — even without communicating — on some issues.”

Pérez Tamayo rebuked Transport Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi, who last week said that pilots fly only once a month and earn between 8,000 and 10,000 dollars.

“If that is true, it is evident that there are too many pilots,” he said. “But why then with the green light of Mr. Recalde and Schiavi they incorporated 235 pilots this year? If they incorporate 235 pilots and there are too many pilots, it means that they are managing the company very badly,” Pérez Tamayo added. “If Recalde thinks that they were boycotting him, he should have resorted to courts.”

Source: Buenos Aires Herald

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