THOUSANDS OF TAP passengers escaped Christmas chaos misery over the weekend after the company’s air crew representatives called off a decision to strike.
A total of 170 flights to Latin America, principally Brazil, the United States and Venezuela, were threatened with paralysis on Saturday, December 20, as the debt-ridden carrier scrambled to find available planes from other carriers.
However, a deal was brokered at the last moment between air crew unions and TAP bosses after the airline promised to negotiate concessions as of January.
Apart from a dozen or so cancellations to Madeira, Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, and Copenhagen, Denmark, among other destinations, the airports management company ANA’s website on Saturday revealed that most flights succeeded in departing on time.
The decision to cancel the strike was taken literally minutes before it was scheduled to begin, during a long and gruelling meeting between the Sindicato de Pessoal de Voo da Aviação Civil (SNPVAC), the air crew unions, during the early hours of Saturday morning.
But the decision to call off the strike by pilots, air stewards and some ground staff follows two days of hard negotiations between TAP management and unions on Tuesday and Wednesday last week in a bid to find a way out of the conflict which has lasted most of this year over pay rises in line with inflation and overtime pay.
Even so, with the threat of imminent strike, some passengers had begun cancelling bookings, switching to other rival air companies such as Iberia, Lufthansa and British Airways on Tuesday last week.
After a three-hour meeting on Tuesday with the national carrier, run by Brazilian CEO Fernando Pinto, the SNPVAC had issued a statement that it would “go ahead as planned with strikes for December 20 and December 27 faced with TAP’s intransigent and ungrateful attitude” and stated that it “greatly regretted the upset that would be caused to passengers”.
An official spokesperson for TAP Portugal had said that despite its intention to keep channels of dialogue open it would not “bow to threats”.
According to TAP, there were around 60,000 reserved bookings made for the two days initially affected by the strike. TAP had contingencies to transfer part of these passengers to other flights on other dates with their consent. Where such alternatives were not possible because flights were already fully booked, TAP had been trying to rent planes from other carriers such as SATA to accommodate them.
Do you have a view on this story? Email: [email protected]