Tens of thousands of Air France passengers could have their Christmas and New Year’s travel plans thrown into jeopardy after flight attendants at the French flag carrier said on Wednesday that had filed a strike notice for a 12-day period from December 22 through to January 2, 2023.
The strike notice has been filed by two flight attendant unions – the UNAC and SNGAF unions – who are upset with the airline over the lack of progress made in a post-pandemic collective bargaining agreement.
One of the main sticking points in contract negotiations is the number of flight attendants assigned to work on long-haul flights because Air France wants a ratio of one flight attendant for every 51 passengers. At present, there is one flight attendant for every 48 passengers onboard.
The unions have already held their own vote on the issue, with around 72 per cent of their members rejecting the proposal. Air France has lowered its demand to one flight attendant for every 50 passengers, but the unions are demanding the status quo be kept.
According to the SNGAF union, as many as 1,200 jobs could be lost, although the SNPNC union has rejected that figure and says the maximum number of jobs at risk from the change is 80 because the changes would only affect Air France’s relatively small Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.
The SNPC is not set to call strike action and could blunt the effectiveness of the proposed walkout by the two rival unions.
If the strike does go ahead, flight attendants could walk out from midnight on December 22 and not return to work until 11:59 pm on January 2, 2023. Any strike action could be cancelled if Air France agrees not to unilaterally implement changes to working conditions until a new contract has been negotiated.
A massive strike by employees across Air France in 2018 reportedly cost the airline at least $500 million after a series of walkouts grounded flights throughout the summer.
The strike action ended the career of ex-chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac who failed to end the bitter pay dispute.
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.