Bogota-based Avianca is facing legal battles on two fronts with major stakeholders filing dueling lawsuits against each other, as the airline desperately seeks judicial support to end prolonged labor actions by pilots.
A contentious weeks-long pilot strike against Colombia’s flag carrier is not showing much promise of an amicable resolution despite a ruling earlier this month declaring the labor action illegal. Pilots are appealing the ruling and in the meantime, Avainca has received permission to bring in foreign pilots to take over the duties of hundreds of pilots who remain on picket lines.
Even though striking Avianca pilots in Colombia have been ordered back to work, the labor actions have reportedly disrupted the travel plans of more than a quarter-million passengers. While Avianca has declared a legal victory in the ongoing dispute with its own employees, a brewing legal battle among the company’s major owners may just be starting to heat up.
According to The Economist, a feud between two key shareholders is putting the South American conglomerate’s future in doubt. Majority shareholder German Efromovich has been accused by fellow shareholder Roberto Kriete of abusing controlling interest in Avianca to illegally support unrelated business concerns. Kriete, who has been vocally critical of Avianca’s plans to purchase 100 new Airbus aircraft as well as a proposed partnership deal with United Airlines, filed a lawsuit against Efromovich earlier this year.
Efromovich returned the favor soon thereafter. Avianca filed a claim against Kriete in March, accusing the mogul from El Salvador of leaking proprietary trade secrets and attempting to sabotage the agreement with United airlines in a blatant attempt to force the airline to consider takeover offers.