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Airlines

UPDATE 1-Workers at Mexico's Interjet strike after weeks of flight cancellations

(Updates with start of strike)

MEXICO CITY, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Unionized employees at Mexican airline Interjet went on strike on Friday, a union spokesman said, after weeks of flight cancellations as the company struggles to maintain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Videos shared on social media showed groups of striking workers at Interjet counters in Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and outside Toluca International Airport, about 41 miles (66 km) away.

The majority of employees voted to strike at the company’s premises in Mexico City to recoup some wages and benefits through the union, the Seccion 15 workers union said in a statement.

Interjet employees are owed four months of salary and other wages, including Christmas bonuses and savings fund contributions for 2020, the union said.

Like many airlines, Interjet has suffered severe disruptions because of the pandemic. All the airline’s flights and operations have been suspended since last month, the union said.

In November Interjet cancelled multiple flights after reportedly missing advance payments on jet fuel for the second time in two months.

The union said Interjet missed out on a final opportunity to keep its operations running after Mexico’s tax authority (SAT) declined to move forward with a debt negotiation that would have enabled the airline to take out loans.

“The current situation is regrettable,” the union said. “We see that there are no planes to fly and no real business plan to continue operating.”

A spokesman for Interjet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“No one can blame (the employees) for the, hopefully temporary, closure of Interjet,” the union said. “We deeply regret the failure that this outcome represents for Mexico and national aviation, just after the company turned 15 years old.” (Reporting by Sharay Angulo Writing by Cassandra Garrison Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Goodman )

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