SHARE
COPY LINK

AIR FRANCE

Air France puts strike bill at €170 million as staff begin new two-day walkout

Air France chiefs say the ongoing strikes by staff are set to cost the company €170 million. More flights were grounded on Tuesday as pilots, cabin crew and ground staff began a new two-day walkout.

Air France puts strike bill at €170 million as staff begin new two-day walkout
Photo: AFP

Air France said on Tuesday that seven day-long strikes since February by workers demanding higher pay are set to cost it 170 million euros ($209 million).

“The impact on Air France's operating profit of seven days of strikes between February 22 and April 11 is estimated at 170 million euros,” the group
said as workers were to stay away again Tuesday and Wednesday, for a total of seven days since the series began in February.

The estimate was contained a statement on the passenger numbers of Air France-KLM, which said they had increased by 5.4 percent in March.

The airline had already warned that the strikes were costing Air France €25 million each day, money the airline says it should be investing in buying planes and creating jobs.

Air France were forced to cancel scores of flights on Tuesday as pilots, cabin crew and ground staff pursue a sixth day of strikes aimed at securing higher pay. The industrial action will continue for a seventh day and Wednesday and unions have warned there will be more strikes later in the month (see calendar below).

The walkout has affected international and domestic travel, with a quarter of all flights set to be cancelled on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: What can I do if my plane or train is cancelled?

Only 65 percent of long-haul flights to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle were to run normally, with 73 percent of medium-haul flights being maintained, Air France said in a statement.

Only four out of five short-haul flights to and from Paris Orly airport and in regional hubs were due to run.

Unions say workers deserve to benefit from years of belt-tightening that have brought the carrier back to operating profitability, after seeing their wages effectively frozen since 2011.

Saturday saw the highest cancellation rate since unions called for the daylong work stoppages in February in pursuit of a six percent pay raise. Air France management estimated 34 percent of pilots walked out, 26 percent of crew and 19 percent of ground staff.

Management's offer of a one percent raise this year has been rejected.

The Air France industrial action coincides with rolling strikes by workers at the state rail operator SNCF, as well as protests by students, public servants, energy workers and rubbish collectors.

On Monday SNCF chiefs said the ongoing rail strike, which is due to last until June has cost €100 million.  

Although the various protests have different aims, they have created a general atmosphere of social discontent as President Emmanuel Macron pursues his ambitious reform drive.

AIR FRANCE

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.

SHOW COMMENTS