Air France grounds flights on last day of ‘€90 million’ strike

Air France grounds flights on last day of '€90 million' strike
Photo: AFP
Tuesday marks the last day of a strike that has cost France's national carrier "€90 million"

Air France has vowed to operate around 90 percent of its flights on Tuesday on the final day of a cabin crew strike that has cost the company tens of millions of euros.

Tuesday marks the final day of the seven-day strike by flight attendants which has affected over 200,000 passengers and forced Air France to cancel hundreds of flights.

On Tuesday France’s national carrier said all long haul flights would operate as normal, without a limitation on the number of passengers due to the insufficient cabin crew.

However around 10 percent of internal flights and 15 percent of medium-haul flights operating in and out of Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris would be grounded, the airline warned.

On Monday some 150 flights were cancelled at Paris’s two main airports, CDG and Orly.

The CEO of Air France Frédéric Gagey said the industrial action has cost the company “around €90 million”.

“It's a huge sum of money, the equivalent of the cost of a long-haul airplane,” he said.

Gagey also said the strike would have other costs notably on the image of Air France.

“This is not what we want to build, we have done everything to strengthen our sense of service and the quality of what we offer to our customer,” he said.

“It is a huge regret for the entire company.”

There was a suggestion on Monday that unions could call for fresh walk-outs to ramp up the pressure on the airline, but so far no strike notice has been filed.

Two cabin crew unions are demanding management extend a collective labour accord on rules, pay and promotions and have indicated more strikes are in the offing.

Christophe Pillet for the SNPNC-FO cabin crew union told AFP a further stoppage could come as early as next week, estimating up to 280,000 passengers would be affected by the past week's stoppage, costing the carrier some €100 million ($111 million).

“We shall meet by the end of the week to decide on what course to take,” said Pillet.

“Management made the choice to break off social dialogue — we never closed the door on negotiation,” added Pillet of a dispute which saw management limit the extension of a labour accord expiring in October to 17 months rather than three to five years as the unions wish.

An Air France spokesman told AFP they had no indication of more stoppages in the pipeline and added cancellations were in line with forecasts.

A two-week stoppage in 2014 cost Air France an estimated €400 million.

Another one between June 11th and 14th, right at the start of Euro 2016 football championships, cost around €40 million, the airline calculated.

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