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Air France strike: the movement is costing 15 million euros daily!

Why are negotiations at a standstill?


Air France’s management and the union of pilots still have not found an agreement after the first day of striking. Both parties are not budging from their position concerning the development of the low-cost branch Transavia. A tense atmosphere that is not looking good for passengers, who may see their travels even more disrupted until at least Wednesday. In the meantime, the cost of the strike is costing the company 15 million euros daily reflecting overly unnecessary extra expenses…



Air France strike: the movement is costing 15 million euros daily!
Air France strike: the movement is costing 15 million euros daily!
Fifteen million euros. This is the amount that Air France loses everyday from the strike.

An astronomical amount that should incite the management and unions to rapidly agree on a compromise to end this social movement that is affecting 65,000 passengers daily.

Yet, negotiations are at a standstill.

Both parties won’t budge from their positions concerning the development of the low-cost branch, Transavia.

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of Air France-KLM says he does not understand the pilots’ demands.

“Thanks to Transavia’s development, we’re offering them a space for growth and the creation of 1,000 news jobs including 200 pilot positions. So, I have a hard time understanding the motives of this strike.”

On its part, the SNPL refuses to abandon its main demand: the creation of a unique group of pilots that would fly both Air France and Transavia planes, but under Air France’s working conditions.

A proposition that was entirely refused by Alexandre de Juniac for whom “it is impossible to develop a low-cost operator with the expenses of a classic company.”

The SNPL strongly sticking to its position

The management is attempting however to reassure pilots by reaffirming that the growth of Transavia will not be done at the detriment of those flying for Air France.

“There is no link between the necessary restructuring of our short and medium haul activity with that of the development of Transavia” explains Frédéric Gagey, CEO of Air France.

He also specifies that Air France’s co-pilots have the possibility of being promoted to Captain position with Transavia while having the option of then going back to this level at Air France.

But these guarantees are inadequate according to the SNPL union.

“I am worried about the lack of clarity of this project that remains poorly drafted” declared Jean-Louis Barber president of the SNPL.

He reiterates not being opposed to the development of Transavia but it has to be done in the right conditions. He also objects to the term of “growth” used by the management, judging that it only implies a redeployment.

“Let me remind you that we have undergone various voluntary redundancy plans. We went from having 4212 pilots in 2009 to 3750 this year.”

Another point of disagreement is the amount of strikers, estimated at 60% by the management and 75% by the SNPL.

“Air France made its executive pilots fly, who are usually in the offices. But they will soon get rest days and I think the situation will become more complicated on Tuesday and Wednesday” projects the union’s president.

Support of KLM’s union

The SNPL received the support of its Dutch counterpart: the VNV.

Its president, Steven Verhagen came to Paris on Monday September 15 to show his support of the movement and demand a return to negotiations.

In fact, KLM’s pilots were never opposed to the development of Transavia Holland (with 37 planes) and even accepted the code-shares between the low-cost branch and KLM on 27 destinations. But now they fear that the situation may escalate into their country.

“We are not radical and our last strike was in 1995. But if the management does not respect our work contracts, then we could be drawn to striking.”

In the meantime, Air France’s competitors take advantage of the situation to attract passengers. Just last Friday, September 12, easyJet announced in a press release that it was offering 1,000 seats from Paris to Nice and Toulouse.

Ryanair waited until Monday to also release a statement titled “avoid the strikes at Air France - Fly with Ryanair.” The Irish low-cost offers its last seats starting at €69.99 leaving from Marseille and Paris Beauvais.

Even the SNCF decided to add 4,500 seats on the Atlantic region and 6,000 in the South-East.

A reaction that doesn’t surprise Alexandre de Juniac. “This strike is driving our clients into the arms of the same competition that we are actually meaning to fight through the development of Transavia.”

But the situation doesn’t seem to be improving because the two unions of commercial flight crews the SNPNC and UNSA also expressed their solidarity with the pilots and do not exclude the possibility of issuing a strike warning as well.

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 16/09/2014
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