Avianca (AV, Bogotá) has received the green light from Colombia's civil aeronautics authority (Aerocivil) to bring in foreign crew for up to three months as a strike by the carrier's pilots continues. 702 staff have been on strike for two weeks over pay and working conditions, and arbitration has so far failed to resolve the matter.

"The resolution of the regulator allows Avianca to incorporate foreign pilots, which will begin with the immediate arrival in Colombia of crews of other companies of the group Avianca Holdings, who will be incorporated to the service in domestic and international flights," the Colombian carrier said in a statement.

El Espectador reports that foreign pilots must meet Spanish language requirements if flying domestically, and additionally some airports will be off-limits to non-Colombian pilots without proper training.

The strike has been ongoing since September 20 when the ACDAC union, representing half of Avianca's pilots, took action after weeks of failed negotiations. Avianca is adamant that the strike is illegal and has begun a recruitment drive to replace the pilots.

"This measure [use of foreign pilots] is complemented by the recruitment plan for new Colombian pilots that is already underway after the positive response of the continuous calls made by Avianca, with more than 1,800 candidates already in the process of selection," said Hernán Rincón, CEO of Avianca Holdings.

ACDAC is obviously displeased with this move. "We regret this measure that obviously does not take the provisions of laws and regulations into account, such as the Substantive Labor Code prohibiting the replacement of workers who are on strike, as well as the Aeronautical Regulations and the Commercial Code that restricts operating with foreign pilots," the union said in a statement.

Approximately 300,000 passengers have been affected by the strike, with around 3,000 flights cancelled over the past two weeks.