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Ageing Workforce Will Help Air France Avoid Mass Lay-Offs as Airline Seeks to Reduce Headcount by Over 6,000

Ageing Workforce Will Help Air France Avoid Mass Lay-Offs as Airline Seeks to Reduce Headcount by Over 6,000

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Air France announced on Friday its intention to axe as many as 6,560 jobs but said it hoped to avoid mass involuntary lay-offs because of a “favourable age pyramid” which meant many staffers were nearing retirement. The French flag carrier warned that despite a €7 billion taxpayer-funded bailout, the airline believes it will still need to slash its workforce if it is to survive the fallout from the Corona crisis.

“For three months, Air France’s activity and revenue fell by 95%, and at the height of the crisis, the airline was losing 15 million euros per day,” a spokesperson for the airline explained. “Recovery looks set to be very slow due to the uncertainties regarding the health situation, the lifting of travel restrictions and changing commercial demand.”

At present, Air France doesn’t believe the airline industry will fully recover until 2024.

In response, the airline believes it will need to cut its overall workforce by around 16 per cent, significantly less than other major airlines including British Airways and American Airlines who have both indicated the need to cut their respective workforces by up to a third.

“The many natural departures expected over this period will make it possible to compensate more than half of these job reductions thanks to a favourable age pyramid,” the airline said. Around 3,500 roles could be reduced through retirement alone.

Unions, however, are objecting to the scale of the redundancies and have hit out at the French government for signing off a multi-billion Euro bailout without any guarantees on saving jobs. For its part, the government has already told the airline it expects it to avoid involuntarily furloughs.

Further job losses are expected at sister airline HOP! where nearly half the carrier’s 2,420 employees risk being made redundant. Through natural departures, the ‘at risk’ list sits at around 820 employees.

The airline is expected to meet with unions in the coming weeks to discuss a number of voluntary options, as well as the possibility of redeploying employees who are made redundant to other parts of the business. The publication of a reorganisation plan is expected as early as the end of July.

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