French gov’t confirms massive job cuts at Air France due to COVID-19 pandemic

by BERNAMA / pic by AFP

PARIS – French Minister of State for Transport Jean-Batiste Djebbari on Wednesday confirmed that Air France would cut nearly 7,600 posts, calling on the country’s flagship airline to make as few compulsory redundancies as possible, reported Xinhua news agency.

Local media reported that the flag carrier would slash its workforce by 40% by 2022 as coronavirus pandemic has hit international travel hard.

In detail, Air France planned 6,560 layoffs, including 430 pilots, 1,560 flight attendants, and more than 4,500 ground staff. It would also cut 1,025 jobs at its domestic carrier Hop!.

“Indeed, these figures were presented yesterday in an extraordinary company meeting. These figures depend a lot on the enterprises’ devices and the traffic’s resumption,” Djebbari told BFMTV news television.

The French state, which owns 14.3% of the French-Dutch venture Air France-KLM group, called on the airline’s executive officials to reduce forced redundancies as much as possible by favoring voluntary departures.

In April, the French government has offered a €7-billion- (US$7.91-billion) aid package to rescue Air France, whose planes have been grounded by virus lockdowns around the world.

“It is not seven billion, as I have heard, to pay for redundancy plans, it is seven billion to be able to survive, to be able to pay wages at the end of the month,” the minister said, noting that “Air France is losing hundreds of millions of euros every month.”

In its last published traffic data, Air France posted a 52.5-% drop in revenues after it had carried 58.8% fewer passengers in March than the same month in 2019. (€1 = US$1.13)