Monday, 21 May, 2018

French Minister Warns Air France Will "Disappear" Unless Crisis Stops

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Angelica Greene | 08 May, 2018, 01:04

Air France-KLM Group tumbled in Paris trading after the resignation of chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac last week threw Europe's biggest airline into disarray, with strikes continuing and senior politicians warning that the company's survival is at stake.

In an electronic vote Friday, Air France employees rejected management's offer for a 2% pay rise this year and additional 5 per cent raise from 2019 to 2021.

On Friday Air France-KLM's CEO stopped over the emergency.

Air France is fell 10% on the stock market Monday after announcing Friday losses of 269 million euros during the first quarter of 2018.

"I do not understand the current situation given Air France was on the right track", the French minister insisted.

In the wake of the rejection of Janaillac's pay deal to Air France staff, a two-day strike over May 7 and 8 has gone ahead.

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Societe Generale analysts warned the weaker earnings performance could lead to a rift between Air France and its profitable Dutch partner, KLM.

Mr Le Maire appealed "to the sense of responsibility of each of the air crew, ground staff, pilots who are asking for unjustified wage increases" but also warned that the French government should not be expected to backstop the company.

The airline said: "Air France deplores the continuation of these strikes even though the period that opens does not allow to pursue any negotiation".

"The state is not there to pay off debts, come to the rescue of companies that would not make the necessary efforts of competitiveness", he told the French news channel BFMTV. Janaillac's resignation launched the decline of the stock. On medium-haul flights to and from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, the percentage drops to 80%, while it expects to operate 87% of short-haul flights to and from Paris-Orly and the rest of the regional airports. It estimates the industrial action has so far cost it 300 million euros ($357 million).

The government of French president Emmanuel Macron is involved in its own ongoing battle with broad swaths of society which are resisting economic reforms.

Unions want a 5.1% pay rise this year, arguing that their wages have been frozen since 2011 amid restructuring and noting that the company's profits are up.

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