World Economy

Air France Forced to Retreat on Job Cuts

Air France Forced to Retreat on Job CutsAir France Forced to Retreat on Job Cuts

Air France will cut less than a third of the 2,900 job cuts it proposed to slash in an initial plan for 2016-2017 that triggered clashes with some of its staff, the chief executive of parent company Air France-KLM said on Sunday, France 24 reported late Sunday.

The job cuts in 2016 would be voluntary and more significant job reductions now planned for 2017 could be avoided if talks with unions lead to an agreement on alternative cost-cutting measures by the beginning of next year, said CEO Alexandre de Juniac in an interview on RTL radio and the LCI news channel.

 “If negotiations are successful by the start of 2016 we can avoid implementing Plan B for 2017, which means reverting to Plan A, or the ‘Perform’ plan,” de Juniac said, reiterating a position expressed by his board on Thursday.

The airline initially presented its Plan A, a raft of new productivity measures that would have required pilots to spend between 15% and 20% more time flying for the same salary. Unions protested that the increase was equivalent to six weeks of extra work without pay. When the pilots refused, the company rolled out Plan B – which included the loss of 2,900 jobs and flight cutbacks.

The announcement of the Plan B job losses led to scuffles during which senior managers had their clothes ripped by protesting staff members. Five workers were suspended without pay over the incident after they were identified from video taken of the shocking episode outside the company headquarters near Paris’s main Charles de Gaulle airport.

Air France has been in financial trouble for some time. The company reported losses of €619 million in the first half of 2015 and has an overall debt of around €5.4 billion.