MIAMI— Tensions between the Management of Air France and labor unions took a violent turn this Monday, when a group of workers attacked the executives of the airline during a meeting at the Air France Central Works Council located at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
During the last weeks, negotiations between Air France Management and flight crew unions to achieve the Perform 2020 Plan have been at a standstill. The airline decided unilaterally to announce today a plan that includes to cut 2,900 jobs (300 pilots, 900 cabin crews and 1,700 ground staff members) “in order to guarantee the Company’s future and its economic objectives” the company said in a statement.
The layoff plans prompted a violent reaction from part of the workforce. Pierre Plissonnier – the airline’s director at Paris Orly airport – and Xavier Broseta – the head of human resources – were assaulted, causing the intervention of the police and the suspension of the meeting.
.@AirFranceFR va porter plainte après l’agression de deux directeurs, chemises arrachées par des salariés en colère https://t.co/z9gCRsgQN0
— iTELE (@itele) October 5, 2015
In a press release, Air France Management condemned the physical attacks perpetrated “by particularly aggressive isolated individuals, during an otherwise peaceful demonstration by striking staff.” The airline announced that despite the events, discussion with the unions will not be halted.
Incident outside of the #AirFrance central works council: formal complaint to be filed for aggravated assault http://t.co/y8DiUSkHOH
— Air France Newsroom (@AFnewsroom) October 5, 2015
The sour labor affairs in Air France reflect the struggle that European legacy carriers are facing to compete against low cost carriers and to maintain competitiveness against Middle East and Asian carriers.
After the events, the airline issued a press release announcing a restructuring plan of its long-haul network, with a 10% capacity reduction in the coming two years, the closure of five routes and the cancellation of 35 weekly frequencies by 2017. Despite no specific destinations were immediately announced, the airline stated that these will be where losses are highest, serving principally Asia and the Middle-East.
Also, changes in the fleet plan were announced. Air France’s long-haul fleet will be scaled back from 107 aircraft in operation during Summer 2015 to 93 in Summer 2017, which implies the retirement of the Airbus A340-300 fleet, and the cancellation of the Boeing 787 order. Parent company Air France-KLM has 19 787-9 and six 787-10 jets on order, with the first KLM aircraft just about ready at the Boeing production line.