Strike at Argentine Capital Airport Strands Thousands of Domestic Travelers

Airline workers who said they feared hostile passengers struck for a second day on Tuesday, grounding some 20,000 travelers at the Argentine capital's main domestic airport


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina_Airline workers who said they feared hostile passengers struck for a second day on Tuesday, grounding some 20,000 travelers at the Argentine capital's main domestic airport.

Aerolineas Argentinas and its subsidiary Austral canceled all of their flights from Buenos Aires' Jorge Newbery airport, which serves domestic destinations. Flights were not affected at Buenos Aires' larger Ezeiza international airport.

Only one small carrier was running normal service at Newbery. Monitors showed most flights had been canceled and about 200 passengers lined up to talk to airline officials or receive compensation for hotels. A few dozed beside baggage.

Larger crowds had jammed the airport before, but this time most stayed away when they heard flights were canceled.

"We are trying to figure out what to do," said Jennifer Farrer, a 21-year-old from the U.S. state of Texas whose flight to the Iguazu waterfalls was canceled.

Ticket and check-in agents first walked off the job temporarily Sunday, citing safety concerns after frustrated passengers fought with employees during a weekend of fog-related delays. A new scuffle on Monday forced the resumption of the strike, the workers' union said.

Jorge Molina, an Aerolineas Argentinas spokesman, said management believed longstanding union demands for shorter working hours motivated the strike.

Argentina's Labor Ministry called for negotiations between ground workers and management.

Aerolineas Argentinas said it was flying empty planes to several cities to return stranded travelers.

Aerolineas Argentinas, a former state airline now controlled by a Spanish consortium, serves more than 80 percent of the domestic air market together with Austral.

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