• France's news in English
Air France fury over month-long pilots' strike
Air France chiefs say a threatened month-long pilot strike would harm the airline's recovery. Photo: AFP

Air France fury over month-long pilots' strike

Staff reporter · 29 Apr 2014, 17:06

Published: 29 Apr 2014 17:06 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

If you are planning to fly out of an airport in France during the month of May, your best-laid plans might yet be disrupted. All airlines will be affected by the strike, but most of all France's national carrier Air France.

The country’s leading pilots union (SNPL France Alpa) has reiterated calls made earlier in the year for its members to hold a strike between May 3rd and May 30th on several hours each day.

And the reason for their desire to go on strike? The rules surrounding their right to strike.

Unions want a law repealed that forces pilots to inform their companies that they intend to go on strike 48 hours before the walk-out, which is intended to allow airlines to get information to those affected passengers in advance.

But for unions that law undermines the impact of their industrial action because it allows airlines to draft in pilots from other countries.

This effectively means that although many pilots will strike, the impact on flights can be minimal, as they can simply be replaced. A recent EasyJet strike did not result in any flight delays or cancellations despite the fact that 85 percent of pilots walked-out, according to the union.

On Tuesday angry Air France chiefs said the strike could threaten the recovery of the airline, as estimates emerged suggesting Air Fance may have to cancel around half of its long haul flights.

Air France CEO Frédéric Gagey sent an open letter to the president of the union in an attempt to make him change his mind.

The strike "comes at a crucial time in Air France's recovery", said Gagey, who added that the company is expecting to make a profit this year after six consecutive years of losses.

"It's incomprehensible that this action, which has nothing to do with Air France, should stop this momentum," Gagey added.

The industrial action would consist of work stoppages at set times throughout each day when pilots would lay down their controls, to prevent companies from flying in foreign replacements.

In a statement, Air France said the fixed timings chosen by the union to stop work each day (0345 GMT to 0545 GMT and 1045 GMT to 1345 GMT) "are particularly penalising for Air France and its customers".

It said the early morning work stoppage would disrupt medium-haul flights and the afternoon strike would affect long-haul departures.

Connections at the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport, the heart of the airline's activities, would also be significantly hindered, the airline said.

"To avoid this situation and out of respect for its customers, Air France will be forced to cancel the majority of flights operated by striking pilots. Only a very limited number of flights will be rescheduled," it said.

Story continues below…

SEE ALSO: French bus drivers strike over tight trousers

SNPL’s president Yves Deshayes said: “We are willing to guarantee every flight, but there will be long delays.”

Deshayes is also demanding a working group be set up to look into ways to lower the tax rates faced by airlines, that he says favours foreign firms.

“Our companies are dying for the benefit of foreign ones and it is our jobs that are going,” says Yves Deshayes. “With all the taxes that exist in France, we run the race with a ball and chain.”

Staff reporter (news@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available