Two major Air France cabin crew unions announced a strike that will ground thousands of plane and cost Air France tens of millions of dollars as it struggles to keep flights operating during the summer travel season.
The UNSA-PNC (National Union of Autonomous Unions – Air Transport Personnel) and the SNPNC (The National Syndicate of Air Transport Personnel) announced a week-long strike that began July 27, and will continue through Aug. 2.
This is just the latest strike to disrupt European air travel. Air traffic controllers across France and throughout Europe have repeatedly gone on strike almost weekly, putting a wrench into the travel plans of millions across Europe. Work stoppages are occurring so often, and are disrupting travel to such a degree, that the trade group for major European airlines, Airlines For Europe, is pleading with the European Union commission to take action against the unions.
The trade group is asking the EU Commission to take action, saying that, “Repeated and disproportionate industrial action by French ATC unions is seriously impacting the travel plans of thousands of passengers during Easter. It is unacceptable that airlines and their customers can be repeatedly punished by these unjustified strikes. We call on the European Commission to act immediately to defend consumers.”
Air France officials have blasted the terms and the timing of the latest strike. “It is extremely disproportionate,” said Air France CEO Frédéric Gagey. “A strike at this time… is extremely shocking.” It is most likely a part of the strategy of union officials to strike during height of the summer travel season in an effort to apply pressure to Air France officials and gain some leverage in negotiations.
The UNSA-PNC and the SNPNC said the work stoppage would commence after talks failed to bring together agreement on renewing an arrangement regarding rules, pay and promotions which expires in October. Air France management wants to limit the extension of the agreement to 17 months, whereas unions want between a three-year and five-year extension.
Flights to destinations in Europe, North Africa and Israel will be affected, as well as some routes in Asia and Africa, the company said Monday. A spokesman added that Air France flights operated by low-cost flyers HOP! and Transavia, as well as KLM Delta codeshares were not affected by the stoppage.
The airline said most long-haul flights will not be affected, but the disruptions could be “more pronounced” on short- and medium-haul flights operated by Air France. Air France is estimating the strike will cost it at least 40 million euros, or 44.3 million dollars.
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