In a consultative referendum, 55.44% of Air France employees refused the multi-year salary plan that was offered by the board. As he said he would do on April 20, 2018, Jean-Marc Janaillac, CEO of Air France-KLM since May 2016, resigned.

On April 16, 2018, a draft wage agreement was presented to the unions. It offered a 7% salary increase spread over the next four years, starting with a 2% increase in 2018. After nine days of strike in his company, Jean-Marc Janaillac announced that he would “accept the consequences” if the agreement was refused after the fifteen days consultation.

A few minutes after the results of the vote were published, Janaillac gave a press conference to announce he would commit to his engagement: “Beyond the salary expectations, this vote is the result of a discomfort. In line with the commitment I made, I accept the consequences of this vote and I will present my resignation in the coming days.“

“The survival of Air France is at stake”

On May 6, 2018, the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire commented on the resignation announcement to BFMTV. He declared that the government would not pay off Air France debt to save a “company who is not making the necessary efforts in terms of competitiveness”. For Le Maire, “the survival of Air France is at stake.”

Philippe Evain, president of the Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne (SNPL), the main pilot union at Air France, accused Bruno Le Maire of ignorance regarding Air France situation on French radio France Inter. “Air France has not touched a single penny of the state for 25 years,” he said. Evain added that the competitiveness efforts are already made, as “in 2017, Air France-KLM reduced its debt from €3.6 billion to €1.6 billion.”

Social dialogue reached a full stop

But among the unions blows the wind of discord. The Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT), the main union among Air France ground personnel, called its members to vote “yes” to the consultation. In an interview to Les Echos, Laurent Berger, general secretary of the CFDT, accused the SNPL of blocking the debate solely in the interest of the pilots, disregarding the other corporations involved in the movement. Philippe Evain answered by reminding that “all personnel voted” in the consultation.

So far, thirteen days of strikes costed the airline more than €300 million. Two more days of strikes are planned: the 7th and 8th of May.

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The salary conflict at Air France has known a new development: 71% of its pilots have voted to go on a strike that could last up to 6 days, according to the Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne (SNPL), the main pilot union at Air France.