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Air France 'declares war' on its own pilots

Ben McPartland · 17 Jun 2015, 10:50

Published: 17 Jun 2015 10:50 GMT+02:00

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Relations between Air France pilots and company bosses appear more fraught than ever.

They were already strained by last year’s pilots’ strike that cost the company an estimated €425 million and now they’ve taken another turn for the worse, the same week the company announced yet more cost cutting measures.

Air France chiefs have launched unprecedented legal action against the chief pilots’ union SNPL for not achieving cost-cutting targets that it had signed up to.

The pilots’ union had signed an agreement around competitiveness three years ago, that would allow for 20 percent savings under its "Transform 2015" plan.

But now the directors accuse the union of not achieving its objectives, despite staff in other areas of the company fully managing to do so.

The union reportedly only managed 12 percent “economic gain” whereas ground staff surpassed their own 20 percent savings target.

Air France employees had publicly slammed the pilots during last September’s crippling strike, accusing them of sacrificing all the efforts that staff had made.

Legal action was taken after talks between Air France and the unions broke down.

For its part SNPL says if any savings were not made then it was the fault of the leadership of the company and has scolded Air France for “abandoning negotiations”.

"(But) even though Air France is declaring war on its pilots, SNPL AF ALPA is not at war with the management and would prefer to build Air France's future in a manner which shows responsibility to the group's customers,” the union said in a statement.

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The thousands of Air France passengers who were affected by last year’s strike will be fearing further industrial action if relations do not improve.

This week Air France announced further cost cutting measures which will see various loss making routes ditched including the one to Kuala Lumpur and three other destinations in Europe: Stavanger northern Norway, Verona in Italy, and Vigo in Spain.

The airline will also reduce frequencies or capacity on other routes in Japan, Brazil and Russia. 

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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