AF pilots back recovery plan
PARIS, 17 August 2012: Air France’s main pilots union validated a draft agreement Thursday reorganising working rules and pay, a key move that will help management implement a broader restructuring of the troubled airline.
The negotiations came after Air France in June said it needed to slash over 5,000 jobs — around 10% of its workforce — through voluntary departures by 2014, as part of a much larger plan to make the struggling airline profitable.
The pilots, most of whom are represented by the powerful SNPL union, were the last to discuss the new working agreements, which have already been ratified by ground staff though rejected by cabin crew.
SNPL Air France president Jean-Louis Barber welcomed the high turnout.
“The pilots accept working harder for the same, or slightly higher, salaries,” he said. “But they got management’s commitment there would be no layoffs.”
He added he hoped other Air France workers would reach deals.
“The pilots should not be the only ones to make an effort, management should take responsibility, other staff too,” Barber said.
Throughout negotiations, Air France said it would not impose redundancies if the unions signed on to its restructuring plan.
The airline has said it aims to voluntarily shed 1,681 cabin positions, 550 pilot jobs and 3,029 ground jobs.
To reduce the oversupply of pilots, some of them would go on a voluntary basis to work on a three-year contract for low-cost subsidiary airline Transavia.
The job reductions would help save the company two billion euros by 2015.
The struggling Franco-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM has launched a major cost-saving programme after posting a loss of 809 million euros (US$1.0 billion) for 2011 and a first quarter net loss in 2012 of 368 million euros.
Pilots from a second union, SPAF, oppose the new agreements and went on strike for five days in July.
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