August 1, 2021

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COVID-19 CASUALTY: AIR FRANCE TO LAY OFF 7,500 WORKERS

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As air travel is experiencing a restart worldwide, all the airlines without an exception are grappling with dire consequences from about three months’ lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic hence, Air France has concluded plans to shed the weight of its workforce by 7800 workers, including 1000 from its sister airline in regional service, Hop!.

During the Airline’s workers protest over the weekend, Management of the French Flag Carrier disclosed its plans to gradually disengage 16% of its workforce, which is 6500, by the end of 2022 and of which more than 3,500 of those to be laid off will come through natural disengagement, mandatory and voluntary retirement.

The management also announced plans to retain its regional operation through its sister airline, Hop!, which is based in the coastal city of Nantes. The official recovery strategy of the management is that another 42% of staff with the regional carrier, about 1200 workers, would have to be disengaged in the next three years.

The management further explained that, part of the Franco-Dutch group, Air France-KLM, had lost €15 million a day during the worst part of the crisis, which also saw its revenues plunged by 95 percent. It argued that by all available indices, it is pretty hard for traffic returning to 2019 levels before 2024.

Some 100 union members and employees, from cleaning staff to check-in assistants, had demonstrated outside the airline’s base at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris against plans to reduce the workforce after receiving state aid to absorb the pandemic fallout.

It will be recalled the French government had earlier provided Air France, the sum of €7 billion, ($7.9 billion), in aid, including state-backed loans, to help the airline survive while, the palliative had instill some respite to the workforce especially on job retention, moreover when government through the Junior Economy  Minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, urged the airline’s management to avoid compulsory layoffs, though it had conceded Air France was “on the edge”.

At a media interview, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, said “A successful labour reorganization is one where there are no forced departures.”

However, Air France in its media statement said it would give priority to voluntary departures, early retirement and staff mobility but did not rule out compulsory redundancies.

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