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Rafales: the winners and losers of the deal with Qatar

Airports are quite satisfied


The exchange of new traffic rights for the buyout of Rafales by Qatar has sparked the anger of Air France employees. But the regional airports should, on the contrary, rejoice over the arrival of a new long-haul company that has been much demanded for a long time.



The employees of Air France don’t hesitate to criticize the attitude of the government that offered slots to Qatar Airways in exchange for the purchase of Rafale airplanes by the Emirate. Here, during the signing. DR: Leadership of the Republic.
The employees of Air France don’t hesitate to criticize the attitude of the government that offered slots to Qatar Airways in exchange for the purchase of Rafale airplanes by the Emirate. Here, during the signing. DR: Leadership of the Republic.
Selling some Rafales in exchange of traffic rights.

The transaction revealed, on Monday May 4th, 2015, in Le Monde has made a lot of noise in the hallways of Air France.

While the company refused to comment, the employees, however, do not restrain from criticizing the attitude of the government that offered slots to Qatar Airways in exchange for the purchase of Rafale airplanes by the Emirate.

“This was the straw that broke the camel’s back”, exclaims Julien Duboz, from the SPAF pilot union.

He laments that the government, a shareholder of 15.7%, “fosters the sale of military planes to the detriment of employment at Air France.”

“We’re asking employees to make more concessions while they simultaneously open the doors wide to unfair competition,” adds Aimé Musto, the CGT Union Delegate of Marseille.

In fact, with the establishment of Perform 2020, the group is aiming to save 1.1 billion euros.

The methods to get there have not yet been detailed, but the leadership mentioned an increase in productivity, workforce adjustments, and changing the payment policy of the aircrew.

Regional airports are rather happy with these changes

The announcement of the attribution of slots to Qatar Airways hurts the company's management the most, since it will have a hard time convincing its employes to provide new productivity efforts.

“We were just beginning to breathe again. But we’re going to suffer once more. Especially since these flights are going to foster the hub in Doha to the detriment of the one of Charles de Gaulle,” remarks Julien Duboz.

The attractiveness of Roissy is yet ferociously defended by Alexandre de Juniac.

Last March, the CEO of Air France KLM, declared to the Echos newspaper that “the direct intercontinental service of the cities in the province by foreign companies is an extremely hurtful activity for the Air France hub… […]

While this may be paradoxical, wanting to open a few direct flights to the detriment of the Roissy hub is a type of reasoning that ends up hurting our regions.”

A statement that shocked the Union of Regional Airports that has been fighting for a long time for direct flights from the provinces in order to “aid the local economic development.”

In fact, the Nice Airport had sent a motion to the government demanding better international service with the opening of traffic rights.

Let’s not forget that Qatar had left Nice in 2013 in order to use all of its slots leaving from Paris.

How much flexibility do unions have?

In Lyon, last February, the Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), Emmanuel Imberton, called on company leaders to act up through an online petition.

In the province, only Emirates has maintained its presence, and operate as of today 7 flights to Nice and 5 to Lyon.

In fact, it would like to have daily flights through Lyon.

A request that authorities will have a hard time to reject if Qatar obtains these news slots.

It’s left to see how much flexibility unions will have to put pressure on an issue that is at the scale of international diplomacy.

The powerful SNPL has expressed itself explaining that if the government failed to protect the French pavilion, the entire industry would surely perish.

It also reminded the economic weight of Air France in the country, with 25 million euros in annual business turnover and 100,000 jobs.

Numbers that need to be put in perspective with those of Dassault and its partners, meaning 500 subcontractor who play a role in the production of Rafale.

According to Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense, all of the orders of French weapons put in place this year account for a number of 15 billion euros, or 30,000 news jobs for a few years in the industrial sector.

An idea of regrading for the employees of Air France?

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 10/05/2015
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Tags : Qatar

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