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-   -   AVIANCA Pilots On Strike (https://www.pprune.org/caribbean-latin-america/600140-avianca-pilots-strike.html)

acpm 30th Sep 2017 03:39

AVIANCA Pilots On Strike
Does anyone know why they are on strike?

The Dominican 5th Oct 2017 18:06

They make less than the Vietnamese pilots flying the ATR's and their T&C's are really bad.

That's all..., just them being unreasonable and trying to get better conditions on an environment where the company is expanding and making record profits.

The bastards think they should get paid better than regional wages to fly 787's in today's market. How dare they?

Medellinexpat 6th Oct 2017 19:46

One of the Avianca pilots union (over half of the total pilots) are looking for pay parity with other Avianca divisions such as Avianca Brazil together with improved conditions. They are looking for a 60% increase in salaries. 700 pilots are involved.

The national press published salary ranges which suggested that Avianca pilots were better paid than other local airlines such as Copa (Colombia) and Vivacolombia. The information seemed misleading to me as the other airlines only have 320s and 737s whereas of course Avianca has much larger aircraft such as the 330s and 787s which should have explained the higher numbers.

Local salaries in Colombia are low. The minimum wage (which over half the population earns or earns less than) is $250 a month. Doctors here earn $1,000 a month. In comparison with those numbers the pilot salaries are high (say up to $5k) but obviously are very low by international standards.

Avianca is wanting the strike deemed illegal so that it can fire pilots and replace them with international ones. They already have approval to hire a limited number of non local pilots, however that would hardly seem a cheap solution. They say they have 1800 applicants which again amazes me given the shortage of pilots globally.

The Union has made various suggestions including setting up a low cost airline. That seems unlikely to me.

Avianca are cancelling about half of their flights each day and are limiting new bookings to consolidate flights. They say they are losing about $2 million a day.

Given the amount -in local terms pilots make - there’s not a huge wave of public sympathy. The government has pushed the two parties into arbitration but for me that weighs the dice against the pilots. The government has NO interest in having groups of workers demanding international parity on wages. The country, which is only just coming off the back of some significant inflation created by the fall of oil and the resulting devaluation of the peso can’t afford it.

Avianca pilots, like others in the country earn their wages. The weather can be changeable, there are plenty of high altitude airports and some approaches are challenging. The last offer from the company was around a 12% increase but that was pulled in hours when it was not immediately accepted.

I’ve heard no suggestion that other Avianca workers are supporting the pilots or that any planned action will take place when the first of the new hire international pilots arrive at the beginning of November.

bafanguy 7th Oct 2017 14:07

Kinda interesting:


Medellinexpat 8th Oct 2017 13:54

The strike how now been declared illegal. That isn’t likely to change things much from the strike point of view but it does give Avianca a freer hand - for example firing the strikers.

The basis for it being illegal is that the airline and the flights are critical to the national economy. There’s a fair amount of truth to that. Although the distance from say Medellin to Bogota is less than 160 miles (and therefore a half hour flight) the terrain results in it being a dozen hours by car.

Medellinexpat 9th Oct 2017 14:21

Latest update is that yesterday Avianca used a A340-500 from Hi-fly (Portugal) on flight Av027 from Madrid to Bogota. The flight crew (both in the cockpit and in the back) was a mix of Hi-fly and Avianca although predominantly the former.

zerograv 11th Oct 2017 10:47

"In the back" they can be Qualified crew (Supranumeraries) acting mainly as client "Representatives", mainly due to language issues to permit better communication with the Pax. They can also efectively be Cabin Crew on the flight, but before that, HiFly would have to provide this crew some training, and then the HiFly local authority would allow them to act as crew. Not much training would be needed as they are experienced on a similar type (A330), but still, believe some training would have to be provided before they would be allow to act as Cabin Crew. Done mainly in the case of slight longer contracts (1 month or more). Saves quite some money to the client, on this case Avianca.

"In the front", believe that without an EASA "ticket" there is no way around it.

Sorry for the thread creep ...

Medellinexpat 11th Oct 2017 15:29

Another update. Local ATC staff have started to work to rule in support of the pilots. From what I could see there has been an increase in delays, but then again this is rainy season in much of the country so it is difficult to be sure of the root cause.

Talk that some striking pilots (around 70 - so 10%) returned to work yesterday.

Bonway 25th Oct 2017 08:37

Presumably, that's what this is all about: AVIANCA! Three-month contracts...?

Geebz 26th Oct 2017 07:43

That Brookfield add should read: "we're looking for SCABS to come to Columbia to cross a picket line and undermine fellow professional pilots rightful attempts to increase their pay."

Medellinexpat 26th Oct 2017 15:48

Latest update (such as it is)

1. There's little news - discussions between the airline and union are ongoing, but there seems to be little progress. The Union has tried to get the hiring of international pilots made illegal by trying to use state law (Antioquia) rather than National law, but at this point it doesn't seem to be successful
2.In terms of support for the pilots, again not much. The national tax people were suggesting they might strike in support of the pilots. As this is tax collection season whilst this might put some pressure on the Government its hardly going to have the local populace pushing for an end to the strike!
3. Avianca has cut back its schedule and presumably consolidated existing bookings onto fewer flights and directed new bookings to flights that they can staff. There was a table in the local press recently and the number of impacted passengers has been dropping significantly. I've also noticed the retiming of some flights (for example the Heathrow service arriving in Bogota earlier) which might be an attempt to provide more 'legal' connections from the new reduced services.
4. The Cali-Madrid (AV14/15)service now seems to be carried out by Wamos using a 332. Noticeably today the inbound is running eight and a half hours late...
5. On the horizon is peak holiday season in Colombia (December/January) when many people travel to the coast or abroad. The reduced availability of flights for that period might start to attract more press comment here.

Bonway 27th Oct 2017 17:46

Yeah, the news channels seem to have gone cold, but seemingly the pilots are still fighting a hard fight. I'm old enough in the industry to remember the Australian Pilots' Strike. Let's hope reason prevails and this one doesn't go as far as closing down the airline and costing 20,000 jobs. Not to mention the knock-on effects.

Medellinexpat 2nd Nov 2017 13:51

Small update the legality of the strike should have a decision from the Colombian Supreme Court on the 16th.

Avianca run full page ads in the national press from time to time to state what they are doing to minimize the impact on travelers. One is using where available their 321s on flights where they do have crew maximizing seat availability. Haven’t seen a 318 in quite a while here....

Avianca stock isn’t suffering as much as you’d expect. In fact Avianca stock was up 2.4% yesterday and some of their paper as much as 5% all of which suggests the market thinks that any concept like bankruptcy is a long way off.

Medellinexpat 6th Nov 2017 21:18

No official news - but just a personal update on how screwed up Avianca is getting.

I have a 'C' class booking to London in a couple of weeks time. In the past ten days Avianca has changed that itinerary twice because of planned cancellations. This afternoon I have had 13 - repeat 13 - emails from them on changes to the itinerary, moving me from one flight an then back to another and then back again.

Talking to their call center it seems that flights are either being cancelled, reinstated, or cancelled again. They might think that they can hire replacement pilots. 'Hiring' future customers might be more difficult.

alemaobaiano 7th Nov 2017 12:50

That sounds like a lot of fun! IIRC there isn't any other direct flight to London, everything else is a one-stop route?

Medellinexpat 7th Nov 2017 13:36

Correct it’s the only direct. Other solutions involve going from Bogota through the US with all the hassle that entails or via Madrid (Avianca, Iberia, Air Europa), Amsterdam (KLM) or Paris (Air FranceJ. The Avianca direct is a good solution, in particular if you are a fan of T2 at Heathrow late at night...

All the changes so far have been on the domestic leg from MDE to BOG. If you live here you learn to plan long layovers in Bogota for safety. I live near the Medellin airport (JMC Rio Negro airport) and there are thunderstorms most nights. It isn’t unusual to have long delays making connections difficult or even cancellations.

The financial press here today (la Republic) is running an article that ticket prices for the holiday season are up 15% from last year and that as an example LATAM have gone from 82% load to 95%.

Avianca also seem to be having to pull (some?) of the 787s for ‘special maintenance’ and replacing them with A321s. Presumably they’re not planning that for the 787 dedicated LHR route otherwise it’s going to be a long glide from around the Azores to Heathrow...

Medellinexpat 9th Nov 2017 12:45

Today’s update. Eight pilots who had been fired have managed to get a legal decision that it was invalid and have been rehired. However that’s a provisional rehire based on the Supreme Court decision due on the 16th on the legality of the strike. Firing those pilots in the first place ahead of the Supreme Court decision looks aggressive in a country where labor laws are pretty rigorous.

Medellinexpat 10th Nov 2017 11:05

It appears that the strike has ended and that the pilots will return to work by Monday. Yet to see if there was any agreement. At this point it looks as if the pilots have decided to return ahead of the deadline next week of the Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the strike.

Medellinexpat 10th Nov 2017 15:07

Excuse the translation - source El Colombiano. Note interestingly Avianca haven't said anything at this point.

'The Ombudsman, Carlos Alfonso Negret, and captain Jaime Hernández, president of the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators, Acdac, announced the minutes of agreement on the lifting of the cessation of activities of the unionized pilots, whose work will resume this Monday.
"It is the will of the pilots of Avianca, affiliated to Acdac, to resume work as of Monday to prevent the continuation of the traumatisms in the airline operation of the airline," said the captain from the headquarters of the Defensoría in Bogotá.

In the letter, which was read by the Ombudsman, the entity indicated that the pilots would be returning to work within a maximum period of 72 hours. "The Ombudsman's Office will accompany the return to the activities of the pilots, co-pilots, instructors, route inspectors and unionized facilitators and will watch over their legal and constitutional rights," the six-point statement signed by the two parties reads.
So far no pronouncement of the airline against the announcement of ending the strike of pilots for more than 50 days, which reduced the operation of Avianca by more than 50%, with more than 400,000 passengers affected by the cancellation of nearby of 13,000 flights.
The losses of the company also suffered a major setback, because for each day of cessation of activities Avianca stopped receiving 2.5 million dollars, which to date could amount to about 127.5 million dollars.'

bafanguy 13th Nov 2017 16:20

What ? :confused:

“All the pilots who return to work will be welcomed, but all, without exception, will be subject to disciplinary processes,”...


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