Air France to go ahead with 2016 job cuts despite violent protests

Air France employees demonstrating in front of the company headquarter in Roissy-en-France on Oct 5, 2015.
Air France employees demonstrating in front of the company headquarter in Roissy-en-France on Oct 5, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Air France will go ahead as planned and cut almost 1,000 jobs in 2016 under the first part of a restructuring plan that triggered violent protests, the chief executive of Air France-KLM said Sunday.

The remaining cuts planned for 2017 can still be avoided if negotiations with unions are successful before the start of next year, Alexandre de Juniac said in a joint interview with RTL radio, LCI television and the Le Figaro daily.

The struggling airline's restructuring plan - unveiled on Oct 5 after pilots rejected a proposal to work longer hours - made headlines around the world earlier when executives were manhandled by furious workers.

Human resources manager Xavier Broseta had his shirt ripped off as he clambered over barriers to escape, helped by security guards, while another executive had his shirt and jacket torn in the scrum.

Air France plans to cut 2,900 jobs over 2016 and 2017, and in the interview, De Juniac said that next year's portion of the restructuring plan was already under way.

He remained evasive about the exact number of job cuts next year - which will involve voluntary departures - saying they would represent "less than a third of the total" of the planned 2,900 layoffs.

Asked whether this would represent nearly 1,000 posts, he responded: "Less than that." "If negotiations are successful by the beginning of next year, we can avoid implementing 2017's plan B."