Driven by the Covid-19 crisis to accelerate its restructuring, the Air France group must formalize this Friday the elimination of more than 7,500 positions by the end of 2022, essentially via natural departures not replaced and voluntary departures, even if layoffs in the short haul are not excluded. The group wants to cut 6,560 permanent full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs out of approximately 41,000 in its historic company, or 16% of Air France’s workforce.
Several dozen employee representatives from the regional subsidiary of Air France Hop! gathered on Friday morning in front of the company’s headquarters in Nantes for an extraordinary social and economic committee. Within the regional subsidiary Hop !, born in 2013 from the merger of the companies Brit Air, Regional and Airlinair, the management plans to cut 40% of the positions. Just over 1,000 jobs out of around 2,400 jobs (FTEs), according to the unions.
Only one employee representative entered to participate in the meeting, Joël Rondel, the secretary of the CSE (CGT). The employee representatives unanimously decided not to participate in this meeting during which the company detailed its plan, in order to protest against what he qualified as the “programmed disappearance” of the company. Two maintenance sites are expected to close, in Morlaix and Lille.
“The lasting decline in activity and the economic context linked to the Covid-19 crisis require accelerating the transformation of Air France”, says Air France management, saying they want to prioritize “Volunteering and mobility”.
At Air France, a little more than half (3,500) of the 6,560 positions to be eliminated must be eliminated via natural departures that have not been replaced, according to a document consulted by AFP ahead of the CSEC. Management wishes to quickly resolve the issue of overstaffing among cabin crew by negotiating collective agreement ruptures (RCC). The SNPL, the majority union for pilots, has already given the green light to such a system providing for the voluntary departure by the end of the year of around 400 pilots, or 10% of the workforce in the category. Hostesses and stewards are still negotiating with management, which aims to reduce “From the 4th quarter of 2020” an overstaffing estimated at 1,680 positions in 2021.
Dry layoffs not excluded
For ground staff, management targets 2,630 positions (excluding natural departures that have not been replaced) and is moving towards a PDV-PSE project (voluntary departure plan – job safeguard plan) intended to “Support job cuts by prioritizing volunteering”, according to the document consulted. Support functions (administrative services, etc.) such as functions “Operational” (mechanics, handlers, ground handling agent, etc.) are concerned and the first departures planned for early 2021. The short-haul network will be an exception: if voluntary departures are not sufficient and geographic mobility refused by employees , there could be dry layoffs, a first at Air France.
The same will apply to Hop !, whose staff have already undergone several restructurings. The company specializing in interregional lines will experience natural departures not replaced and a PDV-PSE for all staff. Its fleet is to grow from 57 to around 30 aircraft and focus on supplying the hubs of Lyon and Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle, which will lead to the closure of the maintenance sites in Morlaix and Lille as well as the closure of 12 of the 14 flight crew bases, including those of Orly and Toulouse, according to concordant sources.
Strongly shaken by the Covid-19 crisis, like the whole sector, the Air France group is launched in a “Reconstruction plan” which plans to reduce its French network (loss-making) by 40% by the end of 2021. The French State, after having granted Air France-KLM financial support of 7 billion euros, including 4 billion in loans 90% guaranteed bank loans and 3 billion direct loans, had asked the Franco-Dutch group in the spring to improve its profitability and its environmental impact and to start thinking about its network in France. Destinations departing from Orly that have a rail alternative of less than 2 hours 30 minutes and cross roads with a large deficit are threatened. The unions also fear a transfer of certain domestic lines to the group’s low-cost, Transavia, hitherto confined to the operation of the medium-haul network.
»See also – Coronavirus: These Airlines You Will Not See Again