It's likely that Air France passengers will face more travel headaches in the months ahead — at least that's if the words of the CGT union representative for Air France Vincent Salles are anything to go by.
According to Salles, the airline's staff are “up in arms, angry and tired of being taken for idiots”.
The words came as the first meeting between the nine unions representing Air France since the resignation of the airline's former CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac is set to take place.
Janaillac's exit in May led to a hiatus in the strikes.
“We will ask ourselves the question of whether to restart the strike or not. There is a good chance that this will be the case,” Salles told franceinfo.
Air France recently appointed its first non-French CEO, Canadian Benjamin Smith — currently Air Canada's number two — which was met with outrage by the unions including the CGT.
It was “inconceivable that the Air France company, French since 1933, falls into the hands of a foreign executive whose candidacy is being promoted by a competitor,” said a statement from nine out of 10 Air France unions on August 17th.
The CGT has said it is “angry” about the way the appointment of Smith, with Salles denouncing the “Anglo Saxon choice” who he said is “known for having created low cost growth at the expense of the parent company, Air Canada.”
But it could also be Smith's proposed salary — reported to be several times higher than that of Janaillac — which will undermine goodwill towards him among employees, who have suffered years of cutbacks and job losses.
Air France personnel are demanding a six percent salary increase, with unions arguing the airline should share the wealth with its staff after strong results in 2017.
But management insists it cannot offer higher salaries without jeopardising growth in an intensely competitive sector.
The 15 days of strikes in the spring saw profits nosedive by a whopping €335 million at Air France-KLM in the second quarter but higher passenger numbers meant the group stayed in the black.