MIAMI – Air France (AF) subsidiary HOP! (A5) is again feeling the pressure on both its fleet and personnel numbers until the coming year. According to the French tourism trade newspaper L’Echo Touristique and to Air Journal, A5 is being resized to a fleet of only 32 aircraft, out of 69, and its personnel reduced by 1,007. The measure will take effect from now to the end of 2022.
This reduction has pushed the A5 Social and Economic Committee (CSE), composed by 12 unions covering all work sectors, to ask more precise information to the French Finance Minister, Bruno Lemaire, as they fear this action being the beginning act of A5 progressive disappearance of the carrier from the french skies.
The fear is sustained by an internal document that the unions could access but also by the tangible fact that all the slots that AF had to relinquish, at EU Commission request, at Paris-Orly Airport (ORY) were operated by A5.
Moreover, AF is awaiting delivery of 58 Airbus A220 aircraft, to be deployed on short and medium-range flights, an arrival that is to take place with the phasing out of the A5 remaining fleet beginning in 2022. The Unions claim that “this would mean the closing down of Hop!.”
HOP! management did not concur with the fears expressed by the Unions and declared that “The HOP! restructuring project aims to ensure the company’s long-term survival and there is no strategic plan that would lead to its disappearance. HOP! does have a future, confirmed at the highest level of the Air France Group, based on operations from the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Lyon hubs with a smaller fleet of 32 aircraft.”
Loss of Personnel, Service
On the personnel side, the situation is becoming hard for the subsidiary. A5 had to undergo a total of 14 Plans for the Safeguarding of Employment (PSE) or Voluntary Departure Plan (PDV) in seven years followed by the actual resizing of 1007 workers, 40% of A5 total workforce.
HOP! counted for a loss of US$94m (€80m) on the total of US$236m (€200m) loss sustained by AF in 2019, well before the pandemic crisis. This resulted in the loss by A5 of all the services operated out of ORY but also some “transversal” connections (not having a transit in CDG/ORY) such as Lyon (LYS) to Nantes (NTE) which were transferred to Transavia France (TO).
Featured image: HOP! F-HMLO Bombardier CRJ1000 – Photo : Albero Cucini/Airways