Air France will operate less than 50 per cent of its scheduled flights this week due to a pilots’ strike.
The seven-day industrial action, which began this morning, is protesting plans to transfer jobs to the airline’s low-cost subsidiary Transavia to keep up with competition, a move unions claim will affect working and pay conditions.
The carrier is advising its passengers who have flights booked between now and September 22 to “postpone their trip or change their tickets free of charge”.
Air France said that around 60 per cent of its pilots are taking part in the strike and that it hopes to operate up to 48 per cent of its flights today.
It added that talks with union officials to end the strike are “permanent and ongoing… For the moment, we are organising our flights on a day-to-day basis.”
Air France has said it will consider negotiating benefits based on seniority of pilots who agree to work for its low-cost airline.
However, it said it will not agree to demands that the contracts of Transavia pilots carry the same terms as those flying under Air France.
Pilots are currently paid less at Transavia than at Air France.
The carrier’s CEO Frederic Gagey has told France Inter radio that the strike action could end up costing the airline €10 million to €15 million a day.
Last week, the airline announced it wanted to invest €1 billion in growing Transavia, which would help create 250 new pilot jobs and grow its fleet to 100 aircraft.
It said by 2017, Transavia “will rank among the leading low-cost carriers in Europe”, and there are plans to move the business to a more “pan-European scale”.
Last week, Lufthansa was hit by its third pilots’ strike in less than two weeks (see news, September 9). Those strikes have been called by the Vereinigung Cockpit union, which is protesting plans to change the current scheme that sees pilots retire at 55 and retain some of their pay until they reach the state pension age.