Air France plans to axe 400+ ground staff in France

Mathieu Marquer

The management of Air France presented a voluntary redundancy plan with the aim of reducing its ground staff in France by 465 positions.

The plan was introduced during the Central Social and Economic Committee (CSEC) held on May 13, 2019, at the company’s headquarters. It has yet to be approved.

As per the plan, 202 jobs in ground operations should be affected, with 169 more in customer services. The reduction should be spread throughout the French airports of the national carrier, including Orly and Marseille, which is to be affected the most, but also in Corsica and other regional bases.

Air France justifies the reduction of its regional activity by pointing to the increased competition from high-speed rail lines (TGV), a network that has been developed in France in the past years, with the emergence of low-cost offers. According to the airline, it lost 90% of the market share on the routes where high-speed lines between Paris and regional cities have appeared.

“The French domestic network is inseparable from the history of Air France,” says Benjamin Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Air France-KLM, adding “it guarantees its territorial anchorage, and links French regions to the rest of the world […] In a highly competitive environment, we are all fully mobilized to defend an essential domestic market for Air France but also more generally for the Air France-KLM group”.

The group Air France-KLM recorded a net loss of 320 million euros in the first quarter of 2019, compared to -269 million in the same period last year (-19%). After a year of social struggles that undermined Air France’s performance and cost the company more than €300 million, the recent reforms of Benjamin Smith managed to temporarily appease its employees.

However, tensions may rise again: thousands of employees of Hop!, the company’s regional subsidiary, have asked to be integrated into Air France to benefit from the same status as the workers from the parent company. This solution was already applied to the crew members of soon-to-disappear Joon.  But negotiations have been complicated, as, unlike Joon, Hop! pilots have a different employment status from those at Air France.

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