On October 5, pilots' unions conducted an unannounced strike between 07:30 and 11:00 (local time), reportedly disrupting dozens of flights from national and international airlines in Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza (EZE) and Aeroparque (AEP) airports. Demonstrators linked the strike to a public hearing taking place that day, in which a number of airlines requested licenses for operating a total of 792 new domestic and international routes before the Ministry of Transportation and the National Administration of Civil Aviation (ANAC). The industrial action followed a technical fault in the telecommunications network on October 4, which reportedly left hundreds of passengers stranded for more than six hours.
Unions continue to oppose the so-called “Airplane Revolution”, namely the government’s policy of “open skies”, which resulted in a significant increase in the number of domestic and international routes operated from Argentina, and the arrival of new carriers to the country. Pilots unions claim that low-cost operators do not adhere to stringent security measures and training programs, hiring pilots for relatively cheaper than conventional carriers. Unions further allege that the opening of the commercial air sector jeopardizes job security for employees working at established carriers, especially the state-owned Aerolineas Argentinas. While similar disputes have been witnessed in other emerging markets, Argentinian authorities have not expressed a willingness to either confront or appease the unions. In this context, unions are likely to exploit the lack of political resolve to carry out further industrial actions. Furthermore, pilots could potentially plan strikes and demonstrations ahead and during the G-20 Leaders’ Summit, slated to take place in late November. In the event of materializing, disruptions at airports during the Summit are likely be seen as embarrassing incidents, particularly amid the arrival of foreign heads of state.