MIAMI – Air France (AF) is planning on cutting more than 7,500 jobs between now and 2022, as reported by French media on Wednesday, citing trade union sources.

The French carrier is preparing voluntary layoffs in response to the coronavirus crisis, AF CEO Ben Smith told Reuters on May 7, announcing a 20% cut to structural capacity.

This 20% capacity cut potentially affects some 8,300 of AF’s 45,000 jobs, that is 300 Pilots, 2,000 Cabin Crew, and 6,000 ground staff, totaling a whopping 17% of the airline’s workforce.

Smith wants to avoid enforced layoffs in hopes of avoiding political backlash due to the large amount of cash the airline received from the French state.

Air France Airbus A380-800 F-HPJD. Photo: Alvin Man

A €10.4bn Bailout for the AirFrance-KLM Group

The news of the job cuts comes on the heels of the Group approving a €3.4bn bailout from the Dutch government for its KLM (KL) wing and this month’s announcement from AF to which the French government gave a €7bn bailout.

With the bailout, AF plans to reduce domestic services, according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. With more environmentally-friendly high-speed trains, domestic flights “aren’t justified,” said the Minister.

Air France also said at the time of the bailout that it agreed to slash domestic capacity by 40% in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, which sheds some light on the job cuts planned for the next two years.

In total, the Air France-KLM Group has received a combined bailout of €10.4bn.