By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Two days before the start of Carnival in Brazil, the country’s main airports faced chaos as airline personnel went on strike on Wednesday morning for two hours. The strike, conducted from 6AM to 8AM brought confusion to twelve of the country’s busiest airports in nine state capitals, disturbing business travelers and tourists alike.
According to state-run airport administration agency Infraero, landings and take offs came to a halt at airports in Recife, Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Brasília, Salvador, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Florianópolis, Campinas and Fortaleza. Data shows that at least three hundred flights were delayed or cancelled during that time.
At Latin America’s busiest airport, Guarulhos International, a LAN flight from São Paulo to Lima, Peru was cancelled. In São Paulo’s domestic airport, Congonhas, dozens of pilots, flight attendants and ground staff blocked the entrance to airline counters. Even smaller airports around the country where there was no strike registered flight cancellations if those flights were going to the twelve airports in question.
The National Airline Crew Union (SNA) called the strike demanding an eleven percent increase in wages retroactive as of December 1st, 2015. According to the Union’s flyer, the more than seventy thousand union members are “unsatisfied with the position of airline companies, which offer a disgraceful wage increase, which only brings losses to the sector”.
The airline companies’ main association, Brazilian Airline Companies Association (Abear) disagreed with the actions taken. “The sector recognizes and respects the right to protest. It however does not support the path taken, which leads to the loss of passengers. Airline companies will be at hand to render assistance to its clients and minimize the possible confusion,”
Three of Brazil’s largest airline companies, TAM, Gol and Avianca announced earlier this week that they would be allowing passengers to re-book their Wednesday tickets or get a full refund for flights originating or going to the affected airports.