September 15, 2014                                

The Situation

At Least 50 Percent of Air France Flights Canceled

Comments

Sept. 15-22 pilot strike in France goes ahead. At least 50 percent of Air France (AF) flights canceled. Short- and medium-haul flights most affected.

Senior leadership of the Air France-KLM group confirmed Sept. 14 that the pilots' strike slated for Sept. 15-22 will proceed as planned. A spokesmen for Air France (AF) said that as many as 60 percent of Air France flights will be canceled starting Sept. 15. While Air France is incorporated with KLM (KL), no KLM flights will be affected by the strike, which is only targeting the Air France business unit. Short- and medium-haul flights will be most affected by the walkout.

In anticipation of possible widespread cancellations, Air France will allow passengers booked on flights during the strike period to change itineraries at no cost to avoid anticipated disruptions. Freight operations will likely also be affected.

Background
Labor talks with airline representatives are ongoing, and union leaders could shorten the strike if negotiations progress. The strike is projected to cost Air France around EUR 15 million per day in lost revenue - its most disruptive labor action since a 10-day strike in 1998 grounded about 75 percent of the airline's flights.

Leaders of the SPAF (Syndicat des Pilotes d'Air France) and Alter unions joined the SNPL (Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne) in calling for the strike to protest the airline's "Transform 2015" program, which includes significant job cuts. The unions claim the airline seeks to promote its low-cost airlines at the expense of its employees. As part of the carrier's plans to reduce costs, the "Transform 2015" strategy and the airline's next program, "Perform 2020," will likely transfer many short- and medium-haul passenger and freight routes to subsidiaries such as Hop! (A5) and Transavia Airlines (HV). Union members could prolong the action, if their demands are not met.

Advice
Confirm flights before checking out of hotels. Flights offered by other carriers on Air France routes could overbook quickly; consider buying tickets with other airlines as soon as possible if travel is time-sensitive and other means of transport are unavailable. Plan accordingly for cargo flight disruptions and associated delivery delays.

 

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