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Pressure on unions mount amid Air France reform drive

Air France has unveiled details of its alternative restructuring plan after failing to settle a row over reforms with trade unions. Thousands of jobs are at stake as the company aims for a leaner fleet.

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Air France plans job cuts

The French government on Friday ratcheted up the pressure on Air France unions, throwing its weight behind planned reforms to cut costs. Paris said the nation's flag carrier needed to become leaner to survive.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said the airline had no choice but to tighten its belt further in order to keep up with its rivals.

Air France has been

at loggerheads with its main pilots' union

, SNLP, as it seeks to adjust to pressure from low-cost competition in Europe and Middle Eastern long-haul carriers.

After failing to win the pilots' approval for productivity plans supported by the bulk of the carrier's staff, Air France said it was preparing to outline a plan B to unions at a meeting next Monday.

Forced departures?

According to union officials, that plan would entail 2,900 job cuts, retiring 14 long-haul planes and reducing flights.

"The number of jobs to be eliminated will be 300 pilots, 700 flight attendants and 1,900 ground personnel," a union spokesman explained.

Air France executives declined to comment on the figures, saying details would be presented to the central company works committee on Monday.

hg/nz (AFP, Reuters)

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