Week two, and the pilots aren't easing up at all.
Air France pilots plan to gather outside the French National Assembly today to rally political support for their strike after rejecting an overture by airline management to end the dispute that’s now in its second week.
An offer by Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac to delay an expansion of discount unit Transavia is a “smokescreen” that “doesn’t solve any problem,” the SNPL union representing pilots said in a statement. The union called on members to meet near parliament at 2 p.m. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for an end to the labor action, saying “it is not understood by the French.”
Air France management have said they are prepared to curtail the expansion of low-cost unit Transavia outside France and the Netherlands in a move aimed at ending the carrier’s most disruptive strike since 1998. About 60 percent of Air France pilots have been off the job since last Monday, causing an operating loss of as much as 20 million euros ($25.7 million) a day.
More on Europe’s Low-Cost Carriers
- Why Low-Cost Carriers Are Still Making the Aviation Industry Nervous
- 3 Failing Strategies Behind European Legacy Airlines’ Battle With Ryanair
Support for strike action is not waning even after eight days of walk-outs, the SNPL said. In a statement the eight labor union representing pilots, cabin grew and ground staff called on the government to take “all the necessary steps to put a stop to the dismantling” of Air France.
Pilots are concerned that growth at Transavia could lead to a transfer of routes from Air France itself, mirroring a process at rival Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which is shifting flights to its Germanwings discount unit.
De Juniac, CEO for the past year, had previously said that with expenses at Transavia France still not low enough, a more competitive arm might need be established elsewhere in order to end short-haul losses and fend off the challenge of discount carriers such as EasyJet Plc.
The cost difference between a Transavia and regular Air France flight is 27 percent, according to de Juniac. While postponing growth plans for Transavia Europe, Air France demanded that pilots agree to accelerate the growth of the discount unit within France beyond the jets it operates today.
–With assistance from Gregory Viscusi in Paris.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at email@example.com. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe to Skift Pro
Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)Subscribe Now
Photo Credit: Transavia jets on the tarmac. Transavia
Air France-KLM Chief Welcomes Coming Surge in Transatlantic Travel
It's too early to tell if travelers will flock to the U.S. after the Biden administration eased entry requirements for European visitors to the U.S., Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said. Instead, next summer could be when travel across the Atlantic resurges.
9 hours ago
JetBlue Founder’s Startup Breeze Places Bet on Adding Longer Flights
Will the Airbus A220 be a game changer for David Neeleman's latest venture? If he's right about Covid denting demand by just 10 percent, then possibly.
David Shepardson, Reuters | 1 week ago
EasyJet’s Rail Deal Highlights New Airline Sector Way of Selling Trains and Flights
Airlines need to work more closely with railway operators to fend off climate change activists. But they also need to test new technological ways of selling content from other suppliers. Let's think beyond joint ventures, codeshares, and interlining.
Sean O'Neill, Skift | 2 months ago