Air France plane dumps fuel ‘over Fontainebleau forest’

The mayor of the town Fontainebleau, near Paris, is outraged after an Air France passenger jet reportedly dumped dozens of tonnes of fuel over the famous forest, which is hugely popular with tourists.

Air France plane dumps fuel 'over Fontainebleau forest'
Photo: AFP

The airplane had just taken off from Paris Orly airport on Sunday morning bound for Cayenne in French Guiana when it experienced some technical problems, according to reports.

In order to be able to land safely it was forced to dump “dozens of tonnes of fuel”.

Sources told AFP that the jet was forced to jettison its fuel over the Ile de France region before landing at Charles de Gaulle airport to the north of the city.

According to Le Parisien newspaper the huge fuel dump took place over the famous Forest of Fontainebleau, an area popular with hikers and climbers, especially on Sundays.

Le Parisien spoke to a witness in the aviation sector who said: “The aircraft was flying at a height of less than 6,000 metres and dropped dozens of tonnes of kerosene over the forest.”

And the site which follows real time positions of aircraft showed that the plane made several turns over the forest.

That was enough to draw an angry response from the mayor of the town.

“It’s outrageous that this procedure is still allowed,” Frederick Valletoux said on Twitter.

“The forest of Fontainebleau has ten million visitors a year and is the most protected natural space in France,” he added.

The forest is spread over some 25,000 hectares to the south west of Paris and contains some 300km of marked footpaths for hikers.

The good news for anyone in Fontainebleau forest on Sunday is that much of the fuel is likely to have vaporized before hitting the ground. But the jettison does have an impact on the environment.

But according to the airline Boeing: “Even though dumped fuel is vaporized, it is still suspended in the atmosphere. The odour can be pronounced and the fuel will eventually reach the ground.”


(Philipp Hertzog)


(Jerome Bon)

Air France confirmed the fuel dump took place, but did not specify the location.

“Flight AF852 Paris-Orly to Cayenne turned around following engine failure at take-off,” a spokesperson for Air France said, adding that a fuel dump took place “according to procedures”.

The type of fuel dump is “an exceptional measure that is taken at the discretion of the crew, but which requires authorisation from air traffic control. The aim is to lighten the aircraft,” said the spokesperson.

In tweet AIr France said the zone for the fuel dump was imposed by aviation authorities, not the company itself.

Certain aircraft have a maximum landing weight lower than their maximum take off weight.

At the start of long haul trips requiring lots of fuel the maximum landing weight is often exceeded so if a plane is forced to land earlier than expected then it requires a fuel dump.


Air France, Hop! to cut 7,580 jobs

Air France management said Friday it planned to eliminate 7,580 jobs at the airline and its regional unit Hop! by the end of 2022 because of the coronavirus crisis.

Air France, Hop! to cut 7,580 jobs
An Air France plane lands at JFK airport in New York. Image: STAN HONDA / AFP

The carrier wants to get rid of 6,560 positions of the 41,000 at Air France, and 1,020 positions of the 2,420 at Hop!, according to a statement issued after meetings between managers and staff representatives.

“For three months, Air France's activity and turnover have plummeted 95 percent, and at the height of the crisis, the company lost 15 million euros a day,” said the group, which anticipated a “very slow” recovery.

The aviation industry has been hammered by the travel restrictions imposed to contain the virus outbreak, with firms worldwide still uncertain when they will be able to get grounded planes back into the air.

Air France said it wanted to begin a “transformation that rests mainly on changing the model of its domestic activity, reorganising its support functions and pursuing the reduction of its external and internal costs”.

The planned job cuts amount to 16 percent of Air France's staff and 40 percent of those at Hop!

With the focus on short-haul flights, management is counting mainly on the non-replacement of retiring workers or voluntary departures and increasing geographic mobility.

However, unions warn that Air France may resort to layoffs for the first time, if not enough staff agree to leave or move to other locations. 

'Crisis is brutal'

Shaken heavily by the coronavirus crisis, like the entire aviation sector, the Air France group launched a reconstruction plan aiming to reduce its loss-making French network by 40 percent through the end of 2021.

“The crisis is brutal and these measures are on an unprecedented scale,” CEO Anne Rigail conceded in a message to employees, a copy of which AFP obtained. They also include, she said, “salary curbs with a freeze on general and individual increases (outside seniority and promotions) for all in 2021 and 2022,” including executives of Air France.

The airline told AFP earlier this week that: “The lasting drop in activity and the economic context due to the COVID-19 crisis require the acceleration of Air France's transformation.”

Air France-KLM posted a loss of 1.8 billion euros in the first quarter alone, and has warned it could be years before operations return to pre-coronavirus levels.

Air France has been offered seven billion euros in emergency loans from the French state or backed by it, while the Dutch government approved a 3.4 billion euro package of bailout loans for KLM last week.

The group joins a long list of airlines that have announced job cuts in recent weeks.

Lufthansa is to slash 22,000 jobs, British Airways 12,000, Delta Air Lines 10,000 and Qantas 6,000.