Air France pilots extend strike until Friday

Air France pilots extend strike until FridayAir France pilots have voted to extend a week-long strike over cost cuts and plans for the company’s low cost arm Transavia by a further four days until Friday.

More than four-fifths of the 74% of pilots who took part in the ballot agreed to pursue the industrial action beyond the current deadline of today, Reuters reported.

Jean-Louis Barber, head of the Air France section of the SNPL union, warned: “It could continue even further, given the very strong mandate.”

He called for a meeting with French prime minister Manuel Valls to help resolve the dispute.

But French transport minister Alain Vidalies warned: “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.

“The low cost [sector] is not a choice, it’s an obligatory move, that’s reality. I think pilots are fully aware of this.”

Air France said on Friday it expected to operate 45% of its flights on Saturday, based on an estimated 60% of the pilots walking out.

The situation was expected to worsen yesterday, with just 38% of flights going ahead – the lowest level since the strike began a week ago – and 65% of pilots walking out.

The airline expects to run 41% of its flights today.

The strike is estimated to be costing Air France up to €15 million a day.

Pilots are protesting over plans to expand the low-cost operations of its Transavia brand by setting up foreign bases as it seeks to fight back against fierce competition from budget carriers.

“Air France has maintained constant dialogue with its pilots in order to reach an agreement to benefit the group’s growth and competitiveness,” Air France chief executive Frederic Gagey said in a statement on Friday after the union gave notice it may extend the strike.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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