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Pilots' strike 'will threaten Air France recovery'

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-30

The head of French national carrier Air France has warned pilots against a proposed month-long strike as it could threaten the financial recovery of the airline.

Pilots belonging to the French SNPL union are threatening to take industrial action that will see them stop work at specific times every day between May 3 and 30.

Though the strike is not specific to Air France, the airline has said it will be unfairly penalised as it is the main employer of French pilots.

In an open letter to the union published Tuesday, Air France’s chairman and CEO Frédéric Gagey warned that the disruption caused by the strike would threaten the airline’s operations “at a crucial time in Air France’s recovery”.

Air France has suffered financial losses in each of the last six years. But following a radical cost-cutting programme, including axing thousands of jobs, the airline is aiming to generate a positive operating income this year.

“After six years of operational losses, the objective of generating a positive operating income for 2014 is finally in sight,” said Gagey.

“It seems inconceivable that a strike, the grounds of which no longer concern Air France and its pilots, can curb this momentum.”

Air France ‘forced to cancel' majority of affected flights

The pilots are protesting against a law stipulating that those who strike must declare their intention to do so 48 hours before the start of a work stoppage.

The regulation was put in place to give airlines more time to warn passengers about flight disruptions, but the SNPL believes it actually allows them to hire temporary replacement pilots from other European countries.

If it goes ahead, the strike will see pilots refuse to work between 5.45am to 7.45am and from 12.45pm to 3.45pm each day.

Air France warned the early morning stoppage would disrupt medium-haul flights and the afternoon strike would affect long-haul departures.

Connections at the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport, the heart of the airline’s activities, would also be significantly hindered, the airline said.

“To avoid this situation and out of respect for its customers, Air France will be forced to cancel the majority of flights operated by striking pilots. Only a very limited number of flights will be rescheduled,” said Air France in a press release.

“This movement is unusual both in terms of its duration of close to one month, as in its modus operandi which will significantly penalise the Air France Group’s flight schedule on a daily basis at two key moments in its operation,” it added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-04-30

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