The decision by Air France to enact its “Plan B” restructuring programme followed months of fraught negotiations between the airline and its pilots, who a year ago waged the longest strike in the company’s history.
“The number of jobs eliminated will be 300 pilots, 700 flight attendants and 1,900 ground personnel”, one union official said.
Air France, like other traditional carriers, faces intense competition from low-priced rivals on regional routes and from Middle East carriers such as Emirates for long-haul passengers. However those jobs were cut via voluntary departures. But pilots refused to fly more hours for the same pay, describing the demand as an effective pay cut.
“We take pride in the way Air France passengers can travel with confidence throughout the world benefiting from all our innovations in terms of guarantees and assistance”, said Noël Ghanimé, Vice President France at Mondial Assistance, adding “The renewal of our partnership with Air France will enable us to work on our new market development strategy”. “You have to look at the figures – the group’s financial, industrial situation is hard”.
A spokeswoman for the airline said no new talks were scheduled.
“Faced with the impossibility of signing accords that would allow Air France to put in place measures leading to a return to lasting profitability, the administrators consider it indispensable to have an alternative plan”, the statement said. The airline has been warning for a few time that job losses and cuts to the network would result if this situation continued. Prime Minister Manuel Valls had Thursday urged all sides – “and notably the pilots” – to strive for solutions on delivering savings.