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AIR FRANCE

Air France: Pilots’ strike cost us €500 million

The bill for the longest strike in Air France's history could top €500 million company chiefs revealed on Wednesday. But with the image of France's national carrier in runs, the cost of the pilots' strike could be hard to put a figure on.

Air France: Pilots' strike cost us €500 million
A strike by Air France pilots cost the country's flagship carrier upwards of €500 million. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Struggling French flag carrier Air France on Wednesday said last month's two-week strike would have an impact of around €500 million on its bottom line for this year.

Taking into account the lost revenue during the strike and the knock-on impact of disgruntled passengers staying away in future, the impact over 2014 will be "in the order of €500 million" ($632 million), said financial director Pierre-Francois Riolacci.

"We need a few more days to finalise completely our estimates. But we think the impact on the third quarter will be in a range of 320-350 million euros," Riolacci said.

He warned the knock-on consequences were harder to put a figure on but said there would be an impact both on the last quarter of the year and the first part of next year as Air France, Europe's second-largest airline, battles to win back its reputation.

"We made some savings (like in aviation fuel) because the planes were not flying," he noted.

Air France has since launched an advertising blitz to, in Riolacci's words, "get people back into our planes." The cost of this campaign has been included in the €500 million estimate, he said.

Relations between management and the unions are still strained.

A crisis meeting on Tuesday to chart a way forward after the strike broke up shortly after starting.

SEE ALSO: Pilots strike leaves Air France's image in ruins

"On the other hand, we had additional costs: putting passengers up, compensation or buying tickets from our competitors for some of our passengers, which we did not always get at the best price," he said.

Pilots at Air France waged the longest strike in the company's history between September 15 and 28 in protest at the group's plans to expand its low-cost subsidiary Transavia France.

The airline sees the development of Transavia France as crucial to compete in the cut-throat world of aviation which has been revolutionised by the arrival of low-cost operators like easyJet and Ryanair.

But the pilots, some of whom earn up to €250,000 per year, were worried their flights could be replaced by Transavia services or that the company would seek to use the cheaper Transavia pilots.

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STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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