Air France may “disappear” amid strikes, minister says

The survival of Air France is “in the balance”, according to France’s economy minister

The strike-hit Air France is been facing the possibility of closure as unions have refused to accept a pay deal proposal. 

France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, has warned the carrier could “disappear” if the unions don’t support the reforms.

Country's economy ministe has warned the carrier could “disappear” if the unions don’t support the reforms — roibu / Shutterstock Air France may "disappear" amid strikes
The French economy minister has warned the carrier could “disappear” if unions don’t support reforms – roibu / Shutterstock

“The survival of Air France is in the balance,” he said, adding that the state would not bail the airline out, despite holding 15 per cent of shares in the France- KLM group.

“I am not taking the money of the French and putting it in a company that isn’t at the required competitive level,” he said.

“If it doesn’t make the necessary efforts to be at the same competitive level of Lufthansa and other major airlines, it will disappear,” Le Maire said on BFM TV on Sunday calling the union’s salary demands “unjustified”. He also said the employees must show “responsibility”.

In their proposal, Air France management offered a seven per cent increase over four years. The unions were pushing for a 5.1 per cent raise this year.

Air France-KLM’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Janaillac resigned on Friday calling the labour conflict a “huge waste”.

Labour representatives were indifferent towards the CEO’s departure, and plan to continue their protests.

“The vote is the victory, not the president’s resignation,” Air France’s CFTC union representative Laurent Le Gall told Bloomberg.

Janaillac “attempted to bypass the negotiation framework with this move, and it comes back at him like a boomerang,” he added.

“A bad proposal remains a bad proposal,” Beltran Ybarra, a representative of the main pilots’ union said.

The rolling two-day walkouts organised by the union since February have taken their toll already. Air France warns that the strikes would cost around $359 million (€301 million) in operating profit.

During the current walkout, the airline insisted it would operate 99 per cent of long-haul flights on Monday, 80 per cent of medium-haul services and 87 per cent of short-haul flights.