• France's news in English

Air France pilots reject offer to end strike

AFP/The Local · 22 Sep 2014, 15:43

Published: 22 Sep 2014 15:43 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Air France pilots on Monday rejected a last-ditch management attempt to end the longest strike at the airline since 1998 that is costing up to 20 million euros ($25.7 million) every day.

The main pilots' union dismissed as a "smoke screen" the chief executive's offer to freeze the development of a subsidiary budget airline that management sees as vital to compete in the cut-throat aviation market.

The management proposal "is nothing but a smoke screen that offers no more guarantees than previous offers and does not solve any problem," the SNPL union said in a statement.

Air France chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said earlier Monday that this was the "last offer" to break the deadlock that has grounded on average 60 percent of the French flag carrier's fleet.

The pilots are on strike in protest at the airline's plans to develop Transavia France, which serves holiday destinations, primarily in the Mediterranean.

They fear the airline will attempt to replace expensive Air France pilots, who can earn up to 250,000 euros ($321,000) a year, with Transavia pilots, who are paid considerably less.

De Juniac offered "to suspend the plan to create Transavia subsidiaries in Europe until the end of the year" in order to have "a deeper dialogue" with pilots, but insisted the overall project could not be called into question.

Air France said the strike was costing them "up to 20 million euros per day" and said it would update its profit forecasts when the strike was over.

"The pilots' strike has had disastrous consequences for customers, employees and the company's finances," the airline said in a statement.

Unions have threatened to extend the strike -- already the longest in 16 years -- until Friday unless their demands are met.

Air France fate 'at stake'

Air France has made concessions -- notably an offer to limit the Transavia fleet to 30 planes compared with 37 originally planned -- but to no avail so far.

"This strike is becoming interminable," said Jean-Claude Delarue, president of a travellers' federation.

"You have to ask yourself whether Air France will end up losing market share because travellers will end up going elsewhere," said Delarue.

The government has called several times for an end to the strike, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls warning that the image of the eurozone's second largest economy was at risk.

Transport Minister Alain Vidalies warned over the weekend that "the fate of the company could be at stake."

"The low cost (arena) is not a choice, it's an obligatory move, that's reality. I think pilots are fully aware of this," he told French radio.

Story continues below…

Management has sent an email to its pilots to try to put an end to what it said were attempts of "intimidation" against pilots who were continuing to work.

"Air France management will not tolerate any misdemeanour and will initiate steps necessary to punish those who engage in such acts," read the email, obtained by AFP.

The company also wrote to its passengers to express its "frustration" and "unhappiness". It asked customers who have booked a ticket before September 26th to delay their trip or change their flight free of charge.

In an apologetic message to its frequent flyers, the wider Air France-KLM group has said its aim was to offer "competitive" fares and Transavia was

meant to complement Air France's operations without creating any "adverse impact on Air France staff".

Throughout the strike, the atmosphere at airports has been remarkably quiet, as the company has been warning travellers in advance that their flights are cancelled.

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
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
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available