Avianca’s pilot union, Asociación Colombiana de Aviadores Civiles (ACDAC), announced today that they have suspended the strike that they started 51 days ago. Pilots informed the airline that they will return to work this coming Monday. The strike suspension was formalized with a signed document provided by the president of ACDAC, Jaime Hernández, to the end of the mediation commission, Carlos Alfonso Negret.
According to sources familiar with the document, the pilots “have decided to suspend all strike-related activities, and resume work 72-hours following the signature of this document and normalize labor activities“.
Pressure to end the strike was the result of a decision by the Superior Court of Bogotá, who declared the work stoppage to be illegal last month. The court stated that the airline is a part of Colombia’s critical infrastructure and therefore in the same league as police, firefighters and military personnel. The ruling meant that any stoppage that lasted longer than 60 days would allow Avianca to terminate the pilots from their jobs. That deadline was forthcoming on November 18th.
Prior to ending the strike, ACDAC was in the midst of appealing the court’s decision to the country’s Supreme Court. More than 700 pilots remain on strike, while 140 pilots have already returned to work.
The strike has inflicted serious financial pain upon Avianca, who lost a reported $2 million US dollars each day during the early days of the strike. The airline was forced to cancel flights, refund customers and provide other accommodations. However, the airline has since reorganized its routes and brought in third party pilots to handle capacity. As of November 1st, the airline was operating at 70% capacity.