Air France is drawing up plans for thousands of new job cuts and bracing for fresh union conflict after the September 30 deadline passed for getting an agreement with pilots on proposed
Meanwhile, Ryanair has suggested to take on a feeder role for AF.
Chief executive Alexandre de Juniac warned of "significant" job cuts as the French arm of Air France-KLM met to discuss a "Plan B" to restructuring proposals that have been backed by the rest of
its 64,000 staff.
A union source said de Juniac had told the board the airline was prepared to cut 2,900 jobs as a result of the failure to reach a deal with pilots over its "Perform 2020" plan, the latest in a series of cost-cutting moves sparked by rising competition. In addition, Air France may decide to defer four of its ordered 25 Boeing 787-9s, which are due to start arriving in late 2016, as well as cutting some long-haul routes, some 50% of which are unprofitable.
The stand-off is the latest chapter in long-standing tensions between management and pilots, who staged a 15-day strike last year that cost the airline €500 million.
Air France, like other traditional carriers, faces intense competition from low-cost rivals on regional routes and from Middle East carriers such as Emirates for long-haul services.
O’Leary recommends AF should dump KLM and partner with Easyjet instead
Meanwhile, Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary was quoted as saying in French newspaper La Tribune that Air France should get rid of KLM and instead cooperate with low cost carriers, such as Ryanair, to feed its long-haul services.
“Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa are all losing money on their short-haul sectors. They should entrust those services to airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair,” O'Leary said. The successful Irish LCC is convinced that the airline could take on a "feeder" role for the legacy carriers in Europe.
Ryanair said it already has been in talks with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, TAP Portugal, as well as LCC Norwegian, to feed their long-haul services with its dominant European network which covers 1,500 flights. A "feeder" deal with Norwegian is expected to be finalised before the end of this year.
Nol van Fenema
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