French Aviation Goes On Strike Again, Air France Forced To Cancel Half Of Its Flights

Air France KLM CEO Alexandre de JuniacAPAir France-KLM chairman and chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac gives a press conference, in Paris.

It’s Monday morning and once again, the French are on strike. This time, it’s Air France.

Pilots for Air France have forced the country’s national carrier to scrap half of its flights on Monday, reports the AFP. Should the strike continue into Tuesday, the Airline expects to cancel as much as 60% of its scheduled service. As a result, Air France-KLM stock has slipped 3.5%. This could cost the airline as much as $US19 million a day.

The latest strike comes just months after the country’s air traffic controllers walked off the job in June, causing the cancellation of 1,800 flights. This time, strikers are protesting Air France’s plans to transition short-haul and domestic service to the company’s low-cost and lower-salaried Dutch subsidiary, Transavia.

Transavia Airbus A320 at Orly AirportREUTERS/Charles PlatiauA Transavia Airbus A320 passenger jet makes its way on the tarmac before taking off at Orly airport, near Paris

The strike comes just days after Air France-KLM announced it will pump up to $US1.3 billion over the next five years into Transavia. According to the New York Times, the cash infusion will allow Europe’s to third-most-traveled airline to buy more than 50 new jets and hire as many as 250 new pilots by 2017 for its Dutch subsidiary.

These move follow those of Germany’s Lufthansa, which has turned over large chunks of its short-haul flights to low-cost subsidiaries Germanwings and Eurowings. The overall business trend is a reaction to the growing need to cut costs due to mounting financial pressure from budget giants Ryanair and Easyjet.

Air France Boeing 777-300ER RTXDVDFREUTERS/Marcus DonnerAn Air France Boeing 777-300ER takes off.

According to AFP, Air France has sent 65,000 text messages to passengers affected by the strike — called by its main pilots’ union, SNPL — and deployed some 7,000 extra workers to help stranded customers.

The airline has cancelled more 200 hundreds flight on Monday at its Charles de Gaulle hub in Paris. There is no word how negotiations are progressing between Air France and its pilots union. However, the strike is scheduled to last up to six days.

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