Air France will reduce flights by about 50% on Monday as pilots begin a one-week strike over company plans to cut costs to recapture market share that has been lost from budget airlines, its CEO said on Saturday.
Speaking to France Inter radio, Francois Gagey repeated that the strike, which could run until Sept. 22, would cost the airline a hefty amount.
“It will be 10-15 million euros ($12,959,500-$19,439,250 USD) in losses each day,” Gagey said.
The second-largest traditional carrier within the European Union by revenue said in early September that it would move ahead with plans to open new hubs in Europe under the Transavia brand to recapture market share from low-cost carriers and Middle East rivals.
“On the basis of what we have now, I think we shall only be able to operate roughly 50 percent of flights,” Gagey said.
“The passengers will be informed and we ask them, if possible, to change their tickets to avoid this period which is a little uncertain,” he said.
Air France has issued a profit warning in recent months, as it is controlled by powerful unions in their ongoing struggle to lower costs. The main pilots’ unions have called for strikes from September 15, 2014 until September 22, 2014.
Air France has said it is open to negotiation on benefits tied to seniority and incentives for Air France pilots who transfer to Transavia, but will not yield to trade unions demanding that the labor contracts of Transavia pilots carry the same terms as those flying under the Air France brand.
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