Air France cancels 25 percent of flights on Monday due to strike action

Some 25 percent of Air France flights have been cancelled on Monday. Here's how you may be affected by the strike action.

Air France cancels 25 percent of flights on Monday due to strike action
Photo: AFP
Air passengers faced yet more travel woes on Monday as workers at Air France went on strike for the tenth day in two months due to an ongoing wage dispute at the airline. 
The airline said it expected to operate 75 percent of flights on Monday, which is the first day of a 48-hour strike by employees. 
It plans to operate 65 percent of its long-haul flights, 65 percent of its medium-haul flights to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and 85 percent of its short-haul flights at Paris-Orly and provincial airports.
Air France said that it estimates that 28 percent of its pilots, just under 20 percent of its cabin crew and 13 percent of ground staff would be taking part in the industrial action. 
Air France unions to stage more strikes in 'early May'
Photo: AFP
Talks were ongoing last week but passengers saw their hopes of a resolution dashed on Thursday when unions announced there would be more strikes in “early May”, without naming the actual dates.
Air France unions, who say wages have remained the same since 2011, are demanding staff be given a 5.1 percent pay increase across the board in 2018.
Company bosses have been offering a 2 percent rise in 2018 with further pay increases to come in the years ahead, depending on whether the company makes a profit.
On Thursday the joint union group rejected the latest offer on the table and the carrier said on Friday that it would consult employees online for their opinions.
“These strikes are having serious consequences for the business,” Air France bosses have warned. “They put the future of Air France in danger.”
On Friday, the embattled CEO of Air France-KLM, Jean-Marc Janaillac, threatened to resign if Air France staff continued to reject his wage proposals.
Air France bosses revealed recently that the first seven days of the strikes had cost the airline €170 million. After nine days of industrial action the bill was believed to be €220 million.
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.
Rail strikes 
Monday also sees the start of another two days of strikes by rail workers over the shake-up which have been causing havoc for French commuters two days out of five since the start of April.
Rail unions object to plans to strip new SNCF recruits of jobs-for-life and early retirement, part of Macron's bid to reduce the SNCF's nearly 50 billion euros ($61.5 billion) of debt.
The unions are gambling on public opinion turning in their favour but polls suggest an opposite trend, with just 43 percent backing the strike in an Ifop poll released Sunday.
The scale of the disruption has also eased over the course of the month as fewer workers continue with the strike.
On Monday, 35 percent of high-speed trains are set to operate — up from just an eighth at the beginning of the month.

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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.