Air France flight crews to stage one-week strike

An Air France aircraft at Charles de Gaulle airport in January 2016.
An Air France aircraft at Charles de Gaulle airport in January 2016. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PARIS (AFP) - Air France flight attendants will begin a weeklong strike on Wednesday (July 27), downing tools at the height of France's holiday travel period, the airline said.

According to initial estimates, the company said Monday it would have to cancel some 30 per cent of domestic and medium-haul flights and fewer than 10 per cent of long-haul flights.

Launching a strike in the middle of summer is "total nonsense", said Air France chief executive officer Frederic Gagey.

Last summer Air France flew an average of 1,000 flights a day, carrying some 140,000 passengers.

Flights to European destinations, north Africa and Israel will be affected, as well as some routes in Asia and Africa, the company said.

At issue is the duration of an accord setting working rules, pay and promotions that is due to expire in October.

Management has proposed an extension of 17 months, while the unions are demanding a duration of between three and five years.

In late June the new chief executive of the Air France-KLM group, Jean-Marc Janaillac, warded off a pilots' strike that would have been the second such stoppage during the Euro football tournament.

Their unions dropped their strike call after Janaillac proposed freezing new pay rules opposed by the pilots in exchange for a four-month truce.

The pilots' last strike, which grounded around 20 per cent of flights on June 11-14, hit France as it was gripped by social unrest over a series of disputed labour reforms from the Socialist government.

The SNPNC-FO and UNSA-PNC unions say they represent 45 per cent of the flight attendants.

Flight crews account for 13,600 of Air France's 50,000-strong workforce.