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Argentine airport agreement sets a new model for worker and passenger health

news 25 Mar 2022

In a first for Latin America, an accord to improve health and safety has been agreed between the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and Argentina’s biggest airport operator.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the ITF and Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 was signed today in Buenos Aires, formalising the ‘Healthy Airports’ agreement that will progress worker and passenger health and safety. It builds on work by ITF union affiliates in the country over the last few years.

“It is important that we learn lessons in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez, Civil Aviation and Tourism Services Secretary at the ITF. “For the past two years, we have worked collectively with industry to put protections so that air services could be safely maintained for both workers and passengers.”

“We have a better understanding of keeping our airports and our skies open safely. With this MOU, we are primarily placed to continue this work with Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 in the face of future health and safety risks.”

Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 operates 35 air terminals in the country and is the biggest private operator in the world. It accounts for 90% of Argentina’s air commercial traffic and employs more than 2,100 in passenger services, baggage handling, food halls and duty-free shops.

Taking health seriously

“With this MOU, we demonstrate to both passengers and airport workers that we take their health seriously,” said Mocho Rodriguez. “We want workers to feel protected and see that both their employers and their unions are taking care of them.”

The agreement will result in creating health and safety committees to discuss and put in place new health and safety measures. They will include both worker and management representatives and cover all the different sectors within airports. As a result, improvements in training and practical efforts to reduce risks will swiftly follow.

Mocho Rodriguez believes this agreement will be a model for countries across the region, with airport operators in other Latin American countries seeing the commercial benefits of showing a firm commitment to protecting people’s health.

“Safe airports are fundamental to the recovery of the aviation industry,” he said. “By showing how we are all continuing in the same direction, we will renew passenger confidence, encouraging a bounce back from the pandemic.”

Demonstrating that commitment, each organisation attended the MOU signing: Edgardo Llano, acting chair of the ITF Civil Aviation Section Committee, and Martin Eurnekian, president of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000.