Flagship Argentine airline cancels Tuesday flights due to strike

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s government-controlled carrier Aerolineas Argentinas said on Sunday it canceled all flights scheduled for Tuesday due to a nationwide strike by labor unions opposed to the austerity program of President Mauricio Macri.

The 24-hour work stoppage set for Tuesday could shut down big parts of Argentina’s recession- and inflation-hit economy as Macri struggles to repair his image ahead of October’s general election, in which he is expected to seek a second term.

The Aerolineas cancellations will affect 350 flights and 22,000 passengers, the airline said in a statement.

“These cancellation are due to the work stoppage scheduled for Tuesday by unions representing land and flight employees,” the statement said.

As of Sunday the statement said Aerolineas had rescheduled more than 40 percent of clients affected by the cancellations.

With gross domestic product shrinking and consumer prices bounding more than 54 percent higher over the last 12 months, Macri has been scrambling to get the economy back on track.

He wants another term to make his orthodox economic policies work but opinion polls show voters losing patience. Local stocks, bonds and the peso currency got hammered last week as political and economic uncertainty swirled through the markets.

Under a standby financing deal that the government signed with the International Monetary Fund last year, Argentina has agreed to erase its primary fiscal deficit in 2019. That target has prompted Macri to cut popular electricity and heating gas subsidies while implementing other belt-tightening measures.

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