Air France is expected to announce almost 3000 job cuts this week after failing to persuade its 4000 pilots to work longer hours.
The scrapping of some routes is also on the cards and at least 15 aircraft may be sold.
France’s largest pilots’ union last week rejected the French flag-carrier’s wage-cut proposals. The airline’s wage bill is estimated to be 25% higher than British Airways and other equivalent airlines, according to a report in Britain’s Independent newspaper.
Air France is expected to break even this year but its management says it is badly positioned to compete with low-cost carriers and airlines from the Gulf, which Air France claims are state-subsidised.
The impact of Gulf carriers is riling airlines in both Europe and the US.
Air France management, with government backing, has been pressing pilots to accept a 17% “productivity increase” – essentially less money per hour worked. Many other employees, such as ground staff, have accepted the plan, which extends over the next two years.
According to the Independent, Air France pays its senior pilots about EUR 208,000 (AUD 330,800) a year to fly an average of two hours a day long haul and 90 minutes short haul.
Other big European airlines pay 7% less and expect their pilots to fly 20% more, the paper says.
Written by Peter Needham