TIJUANA (Border Report) — About 34,000 passengers were impacted by flight cancellations and delays at Tijuana’s airport over the Christmas holiday due to a fog bank that engulfed the airport late Friday.
Miguel Cravioto, communications director of Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico, the company that operates the airport, said low temperatures also contributed to the problems.
“Through Monday, December 26, the weather forced the cancellation of 90 arrivals and 94 departures,” Cravioto said.
But the pilots union in Mexico is painting a different picture.
Captain José Alonso, communications director for the union, says weather played a role in the flight disruptions in Tijuana, but said a “mass worker resignation” was the major factor in the cancellations with employees not cleaning aircrafts, loading or unloading luggage, and mechanics refusing to inspect and certify planes for flight.
“They stopped working in mass due to contractual disputes they have with employers. They’re not happy with salaries and overtime pay,” Alonso said.
Alonso singled out two airlines in particular: VivaAerobus and Volaris, which is the largest airline serving Tijuana and Mexico.
VivaAerobus has not commented on a possible labor dispute, but Volaris insists the problems were weather-related and not due to its workforce.
Tijuana’s airport manager, Eduardo Gonzalez, said he was unfamiliar with a work stoppage.
“I don’t know of problems with employees,” Gonzalez said.
When asked about comments made by the pilots union related to workers walking off the job and causing havoc and chaos at the airport, he stated it was the airlines who would have to answer.
“Each airline is independent and has its own workforce,” Gonzalez said. “Our job is to make sure the airport is clean, functional and operational. We don’t control the flights.”
Due to mounting complaints, PROFECO — Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, a federal agency in Mexico in charge of protecting consumers’ rights — has launched an investigation into the allegations.
If it finds employees did in fact create the problems at Tijuana’s airport, the agency has said it could order rebates and restitution for up to 34,000 passengers impacted by the flight cancellations and delays.