- The carrier will slash 6,560 workers at Air France, and also eliminate 1.020 jobs at Hop!
- Air France has a total workforce of about 41,000 currently
- Air France also warned it does not expect flight activity to return to normal until 2024.
Air France, the French subsidiary of Air France-KLM, is planning to cut more than 7,500 jobs over the next three years despite having received a multi-billion euro bailout from the state.
The carrier will slash 6,560 workers at Air France, and also eliminate 1.020 jobs at its regional French carrier Hop!
Air France expects to cut more than 6,000 jobs by the end of 2022 – it has a total workforce of about 41,000 currently. About one-half of those reductions are expected to occur through retirements and voluntary departures.
Hop! presently has more than 2,400 workers.
“Air France and Hop! are working together with the unions to implement plans that give priority to voluntary departures, early retirement arrangements and professional and geographical mobility,” the airline stated. “Air France must accelerate its transformation to regain its competitiveness and strengthen its leading position in terms of sustainable transition.”
Air France attributed the job losses to the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic and what it expects to be a “very slow” recovery.
During the peak of the pandemic, Air France’s revenues plunged by 95% and the airline said it was losing €15 million ($17 million) every day.
Air France also warned it does not expect flight activity to return to normal until 2024 at the earliest.
The proposed job cuts have been widely assailed by unions, who staged a number of protests across France, including one at the company’s offices near Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Unions and some lawmakers were outraged by the large restructuring considering that Air France will receive some $7.9 billion in state-backed loans.
“It’s scandalous, the [French] government is putting in 7 billion euros and the company is destroying jobs,” said Annick Blanchemin, who works as ground staff for Air France. “They’ll push me to retire but I won’t get my maximum pension this way. And this is not how I wanted to leave.”
Valerie Raphel, a long-time Air France employee who joined the protests, said: “Yes, we have a feeling of injustice, we also have a feeling of betrayal and of complicity with the government because the state didn’t impose compromises on [Air France–KLM CEO] Benjamin Smith in terms of preserving jobs in exchange for the billions of euros that have been loaned to us.”
The French Government, which owns about 14% of the airline, had urged Air France to refrain from making mandatory layoffs, but conceded the carrier is in deep trouble.
France’s junior economy minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, stated: “A successful labor reorganization is one where there are no forced departures.”
But Air France said the bailout loans – which are subject to many conditions, including the cessation of some domestic flights to reduce carbon emissions – will only allow it to “withstand the crisis in the short term.”
Air France’s restructuring plan will be formally presented at the end of July.
A number of major European air carriers, including British Airways, Lufthansa, EasyJet, as well as French-based airplane manufacturer Airbus have already announced huge job cuts.
Linnea Ahlgren wrote in SimpleFlying.com: “Unfortunately, we have not yet begun to see the long-term implications on travel from the economic fallout of the pandemic. Hopefully, this first round of job cuts, massive though they may be, will be enough, and those who are forced to let go of their employment involuntarily will soon again be rehired.”