Angry Passengers Vent On Airline Staff
The scene at Buenos Aires' Ministro
Pistarini International Airport this weekend looked like something
straight out of a bad movie. Television footage shows smashed
ticket counters and broken glass in the main hall of the Aerlineas
Argentinas terminal, where angry passengers vented their
frustrations with flight cancellations, delays and lack of
information by shouting down an Aerolineas Argentinas employee and
throwing objects at him.
Reuters reports the airline is in the fourth day of a baggage
handlers' strike and a walkout by ticket counter agents. The strike
began last Thursday, as the airline opposed an increase in
handlers' salaries to keep pace with Argentine inflation.
The bid for higher wages has created an avalanche of delays at
the suburban Buenos Aires airport, and caused the cancellation of
14 flights on Friday and Saturday.
Several thousand passengers were stranded, according to local
media. Phone calls to the airline and airport company went
unanswered on Saturday.
"There is no one from the company, no one showing their face or
telling us when we're going to fly. We're stranded with children
and the elderly," a woman whose flight to Venezuela was canceled on
Friday told local TV.
"Pilots were not responsible for this week's chaos," said Jorge
Perez Tamayo, head of the pilots' union, adding that "we are very
willing to fly, even during our planned holidays."
Aerolineas Argentinas is 95 percent controlled by Spain's Grupo
Marsans, with the remainder held by the Argentine state.
The airline has a long, interesting history in the annals of
South American aviation that include such a storied figure as
Antoine de Saint Exupery. But it has also struggled with financial
woes for much of that time, and has teetered on the edge of
dissolution more than once.
Airline officials expected things to return to more-or-less
normal by late Monday... but still, this is probably not a good
time to jump on an Aerolineas flight to South America to go fishing
for the big one.