One third of Air France flights to be cancelled on Saturday due to strike

Some 30 percent of Air France flights will be cancelled this Saturday as the company and its passengers brace for a fifth day of industrial action since February. And there's more to come.

One third of Air France flights to be cancelled on Saturday due to strike

France's national carrier Air France warned people planning to travel on Saturday to change their flights if possible due to the disruption set to be casued by another strike.

“The flight programme is updated every 24 hours. Disruptions and delays are possible,” the company said.

Air France will maintain 75% of its long-haul flights, 65% of its medium-haul flights in and out of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport and 70% of short-haul flights going to and from the capital’s Orly airport, it said.

Air France workers, including pilots, cabin crews and ground staff, are demanding a 6% pay rise and have been holding a number of one-day strikes since February.

Industrial action looks set to continue as Air France bosses insist the company cannot offer more than a 1 percent pay rise to staff.

“We can’t give out money that we don’t have,” Air France CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac told RTL radio on Friday.

“I need to ensure Air France has a future, and to go any higher than that would jeopardise the company’s future,” he said.

 Six other strike days are planned this month on April 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 23rd and 24th, for which Air France is paying a heavy price.

Each strike day costs the company 25 million euros, La Tribune reported, and is likely to dissuade users to book flights with the company during the lucrative summer holiday period.

The calendar below shows those days set to be hit by strikes this spring. Blue is for rail strikes and those days with a red mark underneath are for Air France strikes.

by Emilie King


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.