Trouble in the air as Air France set for major cuts

There could be some serious turbulence ahead for air passengers after Air France looked set to introduce a massive cost cutting plan which could see thousands of jobs go, after talks with pilots broke down on Thursday.

Trouble in the air as Air France set for major cuts
There may be trouble ahead for passengers in France . Photo: AFP

The national carrier’s board met on Thursday night and gave the green light to management to implement an “alternative restructuring plan” following the failure of negotiations.

In a bid to be able to compete with its global rivals Air France had asked its pilots to fly more hours for the same pay. The request was turned down by pilots who see it as a pay cut.

“This plan, including a reduction of activity by Air France in 2016 and 2017, in order to guarantee the economic objectives and the company's future, will be presented Monday” to the company's central enterprise committee, the airline management's statement said.

On Wednesday, management had revealed that negotiations with the union representing Air France-KLM pilots on its initial restructuring plan had failed, opening the way to establishing a “Plan B”, which is expected to include a 10 percent reduction of long-haul flights and a delay in its orders for Boeing 787s and most significantly massive job cuts.

Unions have forecast that between 3,000 and 8,000 jobs could go.

“Faced with the impossibility of signing accords that would allow Air France to put in place measures leading to a return to lasting profitability, the administrators consider it indispensable to have an alternative plan,” the statement said.

Air France-KLM is looking to boost its competitive edge against its main European rivals, Lufthansa and British Airways-Iberia.

Air France’s management claims their pilots cost 25% more than those of European competitors,

The threat of job cuts raises the prospect of more crippling pilot strikes, the like of which in September 2014 cost the company €500 million in lost sales.

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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.