Air France denied a Friday report that it was preparing 3300 layoffs to cut costs, but didn't deny that some may happen at the end of ongoing negotiations with unions. The carrier is trying to overcome recent losses and become more competitive with British Air and Lufthansa.
Le Monde, a major national newspaper, had said that 3000 ground crew and 300 pilots would get pink slips, and 20 planes would be pulled from the fleet, closing service to a number of unprofitable routes. The official response: "Air France formally denies the information published this morning...as we move into the peak summer travel period...we're all mobilized to best serve our customers."
The concern is high; nearly 8000 jobs have been cut over the past three years. AF Chairman Frederic Gagey said that in the fall the company will review the number of employees who have taken voluntary buyouts and then "review the company's financial situation."
AF has already said it may defer taking delivery on some of the new planes on order, and has announced plans to cut destinations. The airline has been operating in the red for the past four years, and is under pressure not only from its European competitors but also from the Gulf carriers, including Emirates
The Gulf carriers have made considerable inroads in Europe, both in direct competition and by investing in struggling (and profitable) carriers. Etihad has significant shares of Alitalia and AirBerlin among others, and Qatar owns nearly 10% of International Airlines Group, parent of British Air, Iberia and Vueling.
Photo: Air France