Air France cancels quarter of flights as staff strike | News | DW | 30.03.2018
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Air France cancels quarter of flights as staff strike

Air France staff are striking in the hope of salary increases. Unions want the airline to share its 2017 financial success, but management says more pay raises aren't possible.

Air France staff on Friday went on strike for the third time in one month, causing the airline to cancel a quarter of its flights.

"On 30 March 2018 we expect to operate 75 percent of our flight schedule," the airline said on its website.

Air France estimated that 31.6 percent of pilots, 28.3 percent of cabin crew and 20.4 percent of ground staff were striking.

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A group of 11 trade unions have already staged two strikes this year, on February 22 and March 23, in the hope of obtaining a 6-percent pay raise. Two more protests have been planned for April 3 and April 7.

Unions say the airline should share the company's wealth with its staff after it experienced strong results last year, but management claims it cannot offer higher salaries without putting growth at risk in what is a highly competitive sector.

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Pay raise incoming

Air France is due to introduce a 0.6 percent pay raise from April 1 and 0.4 percent from October 1, along with bonuses and promotions equivalent to a 1.4 percent raise for ground staff.

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CEO Franck Terner on Thursday said that with operating profits of nearly €590 million ($727 million) last year, only €200 million could be put toward salary increases.

"To distribute wealth we have to create it first," Terner told French newspaper Le Parisien.

Plagued by strikes

The Air France-KLM group, Europe's second-biggest airline that is 17.6 percent owned by France, has faced numerous strikes and labor disputes in its French operations over the last few years.

In 2015, two French company executives had their shirts ripped off by workers protesting plans to cut almost 3,000 jobs.

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Despite strong operating profits of €1.5 million in 2017, Air France-KLM made net losses in 2017 of 274 million euros due to the costs of a new retirement deal with KLM pilots and cabin crew.

Lawyers in France were also planning to strike across the country on Friday against reforms they say would overcentralize France's court system, while staff at state rail operator SNCF are set to begin three months of rolling strikes next week.

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