Air France expects to operate 41 percent of its flights on Monday as a pilots strike over cost cuts and plans for the company's budget Transavia unit enters its second week.
More than half of the company's flights have been scrapped during the strike, disrupting the travel plans of tens of thousands of passengers.
The airline estimates that the stoppage is costing the company 10 million to 15 million euros ($13-19 million) a day, implying the cost of the walkout could rise to as much as 180 million euros by September 26.
Passengers whose flights are cancelled will be fully reimbursed, while the compensation for delayed flights will range between €250 to €600.
Strike ‘disastrous’ for Air France
The industrial action is in protest at Air France's planned development of its budget subsidiary, Transavia, launched to compete with no-frills airlines that are increasingly grabbing market share for flights around Europe and the Mediterranean.
Unions fear the company will seek to cut costs by running more low-cost Transavia flights, where pilots are paid less, at the expense of Air France operations.
On Monday the head of Air France-KLM Alexandre de Juniac offered to postpone the roll-out of Transavia’s services to “create time to carry out a thorough dialogue on the plan and to formulate the necessary guarantees with unions”, he told French daily Le Monde. But he stressed that Air France KLM were committed to expanding budget services into the future.
However, Air France's main pilots' union later on Monday rejected this "last offer" to end the costly strike, dashing hopes of a breakthrough.
The union stated the offer was, "nothing but a smoke screen that offers no more guarantees than previous offers and does not solve any problems."
Budget travel 'a reality’
The French government is also keen to see a quick resolution to the strike, supporting Juniac’s stance that pilots should accept the reality of a low-cost future for the national carrier.
"There must be a positive approach in this situation, otherwise I think that it's the fate of the company that could be at stake," Transport Minister Alain Vidalies told France Info radio on Sunday. "The low cost (arena) is not a choice, it's an obligatory move, that's reality. I think pilots are fully aware of this."
The SNPL pilots union has called on French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to intervene to try to resolve the dispute.
"Talks have reached a complete impasse," the SNPL said in a statement. "Management is playing for time, waiting for the movement to weaken."
Air France has sought to end the strike by making some concessions, such as limiting the Transavia France fleet – but this is nor far enough for the unions.
The airline also sent an email to its pilots Sunday to try and put a stop to what it said were attempts to intimidate the 40 percent of pilots who are not striking.
"Several non-striking pilots have told management about intimidation attempts by other employees: physical and verbal threats, a wish to set up and publish a list of non-striking pilots," read the email, seen by AFP.
"Air France management will not tolerate any misdemeanour and will initiate steps necessary to punish those who engage in such acts."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-09-22