Pilots reject Air France offer to end strike

Pilots union rejects Air France “last offer” to end a week-long strike, describing the deal as a “smokescreen”.

Around half of Air France flights have been cancelled since strikes began last week [Getty Images].

French union the National Syndicate of Airline Pilots (SNPL) has rejected an Air France proposal that would end a week-long strike, stating that the offer failed to resolve the pilots’ grievances.

On Monday, management at Air France offered what they described as its “last offer” to end the strike, which is costing up $25 million a day.

The company has described talks with the union as “deadlocked”, effecting Air France flights, half of which have been cancelled since the strike began. 

Pilots’ unions went on strike last week after Air France-KLM, the parent company of Air France, announced cost-cutting plans to save $1.3 billion over several years by transferring European operations to its low-cost carrier, Transvania. 

Unions have accused Air France-KLM of outsourcing jobs to countries with lower taxes and cheaper labour. They fear “social dumping” with pilots employed on local contracts.

“Smoke screen proposal”

Eariler Monday, managers at Air-France-KLM offered to postpone the roll-out of its low-cost operation outside of France and the Netherlands until the end of the year in an attempt to bring the strike to a close.

The proposal to freeze development of the airline’s low-cost subsidiary was described in a statement by the SNPL as a “smoke screen” that failed to improve on previous negotiations.

The SNPL said that the offer does not address issues related to pilot pay and working conditions within Transavia, which is being launched in a bid to compete with low-cost competitors. 

Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey said at a news conference last week that the positions of French pilots have hardened as talks have gone on. Gagey also expressed concerns about the strike’s financial impact as well as the defection of loyal passengers.

The carrier’s share price has fallen across the week, with a loss of 6.4%.

The strike between September 15-September 22 is the longest strike in the company’s history since 1998.

Source: AP