French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says plans by Air France to make forced redundancies would be a “red line” that the airline should not cross. The French flag-carrier is looking to reduce its workforce by around 8,300 and is hoping it can incentivise enough employees to take voluntary redundancy. If, however, there aren’t enough volunteers, the airline has left open the option of firing employees.
“We spent money to save Air France,” La Maire said of a multi-billion Euro bailout the French government secured for the airline . “I am asking that there not be any forced departures,” he continued.
France has secured a €7 billion aid package to prop up the Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM Group and secure its future following the devastating effects the Corona crisis has wrought upon the aviation industry. The bailout is made up of a €4 billion state-backed loan and a shareholder loan of €3 billion. The French state owns a near 16 per cent stake in the airline.
In return for the bailout, the French government has set tough environmental targets for Air France to meet. It’s been suggested that Air France will be forced to slash its French domestic network to meet these targets and in doing so support the country’s high-speed TGV rail network.
The job cuts are said to reflect how much Air France will need to shrink in the coming months to match the new demand reality. Up to 6,000 ground staff could be axed, while 2,000 cabin crew and 300 pilots will also leave the airline. The total headcount reduction would account for 17 per cent of Air France’s total workforce.
Other European airlines have already announced significant redundancies, including Lufthansa where up to 22,000 employees might be axed and British Airways where 12,000 workers face being made redundant. Low-cost rivals including the likes of easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air have already announced thousands of job losses.
The Dutch KLM side of the business is working with unions on voluntary redundancy options but forced redundancies may also be necessary. Talks are ongoing with the Dutch government to secure another significant bailout which may include commitments to reduce job losses.
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.