A collection of powerful unions warned Air France yesterday that they plan to strike for four days from July 29th to August 1st, one of the busiest holiday travel periods of the year. A further strike is planned by the most powerful pilots union from August 5th to 8th.
A total of nine different unions representing cabin crew and pilots are protesting against proposals to combat low-cost carriers with more regional bases in Marseille, Nice, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
The first new hub, in Marseille, is planned for October with the other three due to open in Spring 2012. The airline hopes to cut costs by 15 percent and create new routes in France and the rest of Europe.
Despite a promise to move forward only with agreement from unions, the head of Air France, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, has asked for volunteers for the new hubs. A joint statement from the unions said, "We refuse to become victims of productivity. More than 80 percent of cabin crew say they are tired and any increase in workload is absolutely unacceptable."
The proposed strike period is a crucial one for French holidaymakers. Many French people traditionally take either July or August off. The weekend chosen is busy on roads, rail and at airports as thousands of families return home or set off.