A union representing Air France flight attendants says the airline doesn’t yet plan to make redundancies and will continue paying crew because of a clause in their contracts amidst the Coronavirus crisis. According to the SN union, Air France has cut overall capacity on its long-haul network by 13 per cent and European services by 25 per cent, except for Italy which has been halved.
Despite the Trump administration’s Coronavirus travel ban, Air France also intends to continue serving the United States throughout the 30-day period with flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York JFK, San Francisco and Washington. The airline explained that it expects to make a loss on these services.
In a normal year, the United States would normally account for 15 per cent of its ‘network passenger’ revenues.
In a statement, Air France warned that it might reroute some passengers booked to travel between France and the United States through its joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic after March 28. No final decision has yet been made.
Even if Air France does cut its capacity still further (which looks likely), Air France flight attendants will continue to receive a wage with a reduction in pay linked to the fall in activity – although, whatever happens, the airline will guarantee basic minimum pay.
“Your economic situation is changing by the minute,” read a memo sent by the union to its Air France flight attendant members, cautioning that the dire situation may well still get much worse.
However, Air France has revealed that it might be able to gradually restart flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong starting April 1. No restart date has yet been given for Wuhan.
The union told members that “diplomatic negotiations” meant that some routes continued to remain open despite “pressure” from certain governments.
Over at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the carrier today revealed that its remaining Boeing 747’s would be retired early starting in April. To reduce costs, a hiring freeze has been implemented, investments halted and some temporary contracts ended early.
For now, the airline will only ask staffers to reduce their working hours and to take voluntary unpaid leave.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.