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

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