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Punta Arenas News.

Tuesday, January 13th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
Full article

Lan Chile again in the spotlight; Spanish King visits Punta Arenas and Antarctica; “Pardehlas” case close to an end.

Lan Chile again in the spotlight

Chilean Congressman Zarko Luksic requested this week that the Economic Affairs Prosecutor Office investigate recent changes in the travel industry that endanger travel agencies financial existence and help "consolidate Lan Chile's monopoly". Mr. Luksic, a Punta Arenas resident, claims that the recent International Air Travel Association, IATA, "unilateral and unjustified" decision forcing travel agencies to advance air ticket payments seriously hinders their "financial stability". "For forty years payments to air companies were made effective every 14 days and now IATA has cut the time to half, 7 days, meaning travel agencies must double their working financial resources", claims Deputy Luksic. The Congressman also accused Lan Chile of offering "hotel and land transport" services which are normally supplied by travel agencies, thus creating a situation of "unfair competition". "We must impede the vertical integration consolidation of Lan Chile that already has control over 90% of domestic flights and 60% of overseas flights", underlined Mr. Luksic a consistent critic of Lan Chile particularly with its long distance schedules and rates to Punta Arenas. "It's essential to ensure greater transparency to the travel industry and so protect the consumer from dominating market forces. Travel agencies play a crucial role in this area and we must ensure customers can freely choose conditions for travelling". Finally Congressman Luksic warned that if the IATA proposal to have air tickets paid at the moment of booking (sometimes months in advance) takes hold, "many regional travel agencies will be forced to close down. It's unfair to suddenly change the rules of the game thus concentrating the sale of tickets in a few powerful financial groups". "We expect an in depth investigation from the Economic Affairs Prosecutor Office to ensure competition and consumer rights".

Spanish King visits Punta Arenas and Antarctica

Spanish King Juan Carlos will be travelling to Punta Arenas and Antarctica this coming Friday and Saturday, following an official two days state visit to Chile. Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía who previously visited Chile in 1990 and 1996 are scheduled to arrive this Wednesday in Santiago for a full agenda of political and business meetings. After holding private talks with President Ricardo Lagos and later in the day with the presidents of the Senate and Deputies chambers, Andres Zaldivar and Isabel Allende, the King will address the full House. In the evening the royal couple will be hosted by the Spanish community in Chile and the following day King Juan Carlos will participate in a Chilean-Spanish business forum. Spain is the second major investor in Chile with ten billion US dollars and the objective of the business forum is to further promote trade between the two countries. Thursday evening the Queen returns to Spain and the King travels south to Punta Arenas and to the Spanish Antarctic bases of King Juan Carlos and Gabriel de Castilla. Saturday evening the royal aircraft takes off from Punta Arenas back to Madrid.

"Pardehlas" case close to an end

The legal controversy over arrears and redundancy payments for Peruvian crew members of the fishing vessels "Pardelhas" and "Almourol" stranded for several years in Punta Arenas seems close to an end. A Peruvian legal counsellor sent to Punta Arenas on request of the Peruvian consulate has been working for the last three months on two main demands presented in the local Labour Court: unjustified redundancy of the crewmembers of both vessels, and a two years arrears payment claim. However the captain of the "Pardelhas", Roberto Dassé, apparently following instructions from the "Pardelhas Fishing Company", has argued that the crewmembers were fired last July 19 when they refused to return to the vessel. But the plaintiff Augusto Urmeneta Pereyra responded that the "Pardelhas" has been grounded and seriously listed for several months now and living conditions onboard were appallingly inhuman, so much that Punta Arenas port authorities have banned access to the vessel for safety reasons. Both vessels originally belonging to a Portuguese company with South Atlantic partners have been in litigation with the abandoned crew for over two years. Punta Arenas authorities and local unions have been supporting the crewmembers, mostly Peruvian nationals who promised not to leave the vessels until they were paid.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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