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Air Méditerranée: CEO tries to comfort employees on the company's future

Employees are worried about the future buyout of their company

Antoine Ferretti, the director of Air Méditerranée, is trying to comfort employees on what’s to become of the company that is currently going under judicial review. A necessary effort to restore confidence while waiting for a shareholder who will stabilize accounts and pay back creditors.

Rédigé par Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 13 Avril 2015

Air Méditerranée is impatiently waiting for the arrival of a shareholder who will stabilize accounts. DR
Air Méditerranée is impatiently waiting for the arrival of a shareholder who will stabilize accounts. DR
Is this Air Méditerranée’s swan song?

Despite many reserved summer flights and the official support of partner tour-operators, the company seems to be on the razor’s edge more than ever since it was placed under judicial review last January 20th.

While waiting for the arrival of future investors, it is lacking in cash flow to pay current expenses.

This primarily affects BSP France, who sent a warning message to its members last February. Because in fact, the IATA requires that a cash deposit be paid when one of its members is put under judicial review.

“The money demanded was put on an account in the Caisse des Dépôts, a decision that was made in agreement with the court administrator, explains Antoine Ferretti, the CEO.

This measure will be maintained until a future partner enters the company’s capital. The protected money is only taken out once the flights have taken place.”

Hermès: competitor or partner of Air Méditerranée?

The employees are not getting better treatment with delays of up to two weeks in receiving their paychecks. “This delay will be fixed with the upcoming summer season,” adds Antoine Ferretti.

The company is also struggling in paying its retirement pensions.

The "Caisse de retraite du personnel navigant professionnel de l’aéronautique civile" (Retirement Fund for Air Crew and Civil Aeronautic Professionals - translator’s note) (CRPN) has in fact declared its receivables to the judicial representative.

“This is true, we have creditors, especially this retirement fund. But our debts have been frozen since we’ve been put under judicial review".

This situation worries employees because even in the event of a buyout, it is not very probable that future investors will agree on reimbursing these unpaid months.

“I’m very afraid that some of us may just have to accept losing a few months of retirement pension,” laments an air crew member.

Another source of worry: the development of Hermès, the Greek branch, that is going to rent two additional Airbuses A320.

This company will have a fleet of five aircrafts, including three in wet-lease for the 2015 summer season, to which will be added two planes belonging to the company Aerovista, based in Dubai, under an agreement on shares.

“Aerovista wanted to create a Certificate of Air Transport (CTA) in Europe. Hermès gave it the opportunity by providing crew members and maintenance services, which should improve its productivity,” adds Antoine Ferretti.

A growth spurt that has not gone unnoticed. “No one has ever had access to Hermès’ numbers even though it is a branch of the group. We don’t know anything about its financial outcomes,” laments another employee.

The employees worry that the expansion of Hermès will absorb their operations in France, turning Air Méditerranée into an empty shell.

An accusation that Antoine Ferretti firmly refutes. On the contrary, he believe that Hermès enabled to save French operations by allowing him to get rid of superfluous planes during the drop in activity in 2012.

“When an Air Méditerranée plane is under maintenance, we tend to replace it by a Hermès plane. But we only do this when necessary.

There is no strategy behind that. Especially not now. Our goal is to simply have two solidly operational companies,”
specifies Antoine Ferretti.

The CEO attempts to comfort his employees

Antoine Ferretti tries to comfort his employees on the future of the company. DR
Antoine Ferretti tries to comfort his employees on the future of the company. DR
On Tuesday, April 7th, 2015, the director started a tour of his bases in Toulouse, Paris, and Lyon. Through this, he hopes to appease the growing discontent amongst his personnel, of which some are beginning to talk about mobilizing.

“Our CEO announced we would have a wonderful Winter season, and assured that he could solve these problems without having to call on exterior shareholders.

Yet, just a few weeks later, we had to be placed under judicial review. Today, I am no longer confident,”
states an air crew member.

The employees expect a lot from the four candidates running to buyout the company, they should in fact present their projects in the month of May.

“They are players who have proved themselves and who come from diverse backgrounds. They have access to all of the company’s economic, legal, and financial information in order to finalize their project - under a confidentiality clause,” specifies Antoine Ferretti.

Various names have been circulating, including that of the ASL Aviation group, that owns Europe Airport, a partner company of Air Méditerranée within the SCARA union. An unconfirmed hypothesis that only seems to inspire a cautious silence within the company’s management.

In the meantime, the company is maintaining its operations. It has recently relaunched its line Marseille-Algiers and is opening a Bastia-Ouida flight for the upcoming summer season.

“The DGAC gave us the green light which illustrates their confidence in our company’s development.”

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