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Montevideo, December 14th 2017 - 09:59 UTC

Bolivian commercial air traffic back to normal

Friday, March 31st 2006 - 21:00 UTC
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Bolivian airports resumed Friday normal operations after workers from Lloyd Aero Boliviano (LAB) demanding a government takeover of the airline ended protests and agreed to negotiations.

Bolivia's head of Civil Aviation, Javier Garcia, said national and international flights were back operating normally and that LAB had been authorized to resume flights suspended Thursday because of protests in several airports.

LAB pilots and other workers on Thursday organized sit-ins on runways blocking access to airports in La Paz, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Tarija, causing major disruptions and cancelling of flights. Protests were finally broken up by police and army troops stationed at those facilities.

Workers claim that the airline's majority shareholder is driving the company - which has over 160 million US dollars in debt - into bankruptcy. During a Friday morning meeting they proposed to presidential chief of staff, Juan Ramon Quintana, and Planning Minister Carlos Villegas that the government takes over a majority stake in LAB.

However Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera was quoted on Bolivian television arguing that the government would not acquire a majority stake, much less nationalize the company, as the workers' union had previously demanded.

Businessman Ernesto Asbun owns 50.4% of the Bolivian flag carrier and the Bolivian government 48%, with small private investors holding the rest.

Government took over the management of the airline last February 9 but suspended the measure following a ruling from Bolivia's Constitutional Court upholding an injunction filed by the company to block the move.

Prior to the intervention, the pilots' union had gone on strike to press demands for the reimbursement of almost 10 million US dollars from the company's retirement fund which had been invested by Mr. Asbun to help the debt ridden company.

Categories: Mercosur.

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