Over 240 Flights Canceled Affecting 30,000 Travelers as Strikes Rock Argentina

Hundreds of flights have been canceled and tens of thousands of passengers have been impacted by surprise union strikes in Argentina.

In the South American country’s capital Buenos Aires as well as in airports throughout the country, employees of flagship airline Aerolíneas Argentinas went on strike Thursday morning, continuing the protest into the afternoon. At least 243 flights had been canceled and more than 30,000 passengers had been affected, according to local reports.

The airline has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labor in a bid to deduct the day losses from striking employees wages, Argentine newspaper Clarin reported. Workers are striking over concerns regarding their salaries and rapid inflation in the country.

Argentina has a long history of economic woes and rapid inflation. Although President Mauricio Macri has worked to address the problem, temporarily leading to an economic boom in 2017, the peso’s exchange rate to the U.S. dollar has plummeted over the past few months.

GettyImages-825629130 An Aerolineas Argentinas airplane taxis along the runway at the Jorge Newbery Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 2, 2017. In Buenos Aires, as well as in airports throughout the country, employees of Aerolíneas Argentinas went on strike Thursday morning, continuing the protest into the afternoon. EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images

With their salaries becoming less and less valuable, some of the strikers held signs on Wednesday that read, “If they do not pay salaries, it’s not going to end.”

The country’s Minister of Transport Guillermo Dietrich, said that airlines have been impacted significantly due to the economic problems, but the government is working to address the problem.

“The Argentine Government is making a great effort to assist Aerolíneas Argentinas at this moment, whose numbers are in the red, as always in recent years,” he said, according to Clarin. “The price of oil has increased, the [currency] devaluation has impacted [the industry], there are fewer Argentines who fly abroad,” he explained.

Addressing the problem, Macri said that the government and the airline need to work together.

“Let's work together so that as soon as possible [the airline] can fly without asking the state for money, without asking the rest of the Argentines for money to operate, something that the vast majority of the world's airlines achieve,” he said, Argentine newspaper La Prensa reported.

“The truth is that most of the airlines that operate in the world today do not require their citizens to pay them money every month,” he argued.

GettyImages-1045999270 President of Argentina Mauricio Macri speaks during the opening day of the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on October 5. Macri said that the government and the country’s flagship airline Aerolíneas Argentinas need to work together. Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images

But for striking workers and their union leaders, the concern is simply over whether or not they will be paid what they believe is rightfully their due.

Ricardo Cirielli, from the Association of Aeronautical Technical Personnel, said that employees had not been paid “100 percent of the salary,” according to Clarin.

While he agreed that prior commitments from the airline had been “carried out correctly,” he said that the airline had told union leaders that they would not pay what employees believed they were owed. He said the company also plans to “freeze salaries for four or five months.”

As the strikes continue, impacted passengers are allowed to adjust their tickers for other dates or destinations for a period of 30 days.

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