France Airport Guide

 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Air France strike ends after dramatic weekend

Air France’s main pilots’ union ended its marathon two-week strike on Sunday, allowing a bitter feud over its low-cost subsidiary to continue in a calmer mood, albeit without a clear final resolution.
The SNPL's spokesman Guillaume Schmid told AFP the pilots were ending the strike, which has cost the airline over 200 million euros and caused its shares to fall by 15 per cent.
The crippling strike, which was the longest such movement since 1998, disrupted travel plans for thousands of people.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls immediately responded to the news saying that he hoped all sides could "regain the confidence of everyone and resume the development of Air France and its subsidiary Transavia, which is an asset."
The French government had called several times for the strike to end, saying it hurt the image of France as it was unbearable for travellers.
Valls said on Sunday that the 14-day strike "penalised passengers, the company and the country's economy".
Something of a change of tune for the government after it had refused on Saturday to name an independent mediator to settle the bitter feud over its budget subsidiary Transavia.
In a “gesture of appeasement” the SNPL union had said late on Friday that it was ready to end the strikes as soon as the government named an independent mediator.
However, the French prime minister’s office said there were “no grounds for new negotiations with a mediator.”
The strike was initiated in response to the airline’s recent announcement of a major plan to expand its budget subsidiary Transavia via regional hubs around Europe to rival budget carriers like Ryanair.
The billion dollar plan sparked the ire of Air France crew because Transavia pilots work on a different and less lucrative employment contract.
The pilots wanted a single contract across Air France-KLM and its subsidiaries to avoid cutting salary and work benefits if they flew with Transavia.
They also fear the airline would increasingly seek to replace the expensive Air France pilots, who can earn up to 250,000 euros a year, with less costly Transavia pilots.
As a concession to the pilots, the company scaled back its plans insofar as keeping Transavia operations within France.
However, it has maintained that it has the right to have varying employment contracts for those working at its budget subsidiary.
Despite lifting the strike, Schmid said talks over the issue had reached an impasse early Sunday, with the latest round still not meeting the pilot’s demands.
Air France flight schedules are expected to return to normal starting Tuesday.


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