Air France pilots conditionally approve Transavia plans

4th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

A plan by Air France management to develop low-cost affiliate Transavia's domestic operation cleared its last major hurdle Thursday when the flag carrier's largest pilots' union approved the proposal.

But the SNPL union accepted Transavia's expansion in France under the condition a previously tabled project to develop the low-cost unit across Europe be definitively shelved.

Pilot opposition to management plans for Transavia's European expansion sparked a record two-week strike in September that cost Air France an estimated 500 million euros ($618 million).

Thursday's accord came a day after the SNPL revealed results of a pilots' referendum that saw 53 percents of participants backing the Transavia's French development -- and 60 percent among SNPL members.

Air France argues the development of Transavia is vital for the money-losing flag carrier to reclaim millions passengers lost to low-cost upstarts like Ryanair and easyJet.

But the union's agreement carries the condition that Air France's withdrawal of Transavia's European development as a concession for ending the September strike be made definitive with a written pledge from Air France-KLM CEO Alexandre de Juniac to kill the plan.

Striking pilots had feared the initial plan could force well-paid Air France crew into penny-pinching Transavia jobs, and that the low-cost carrier might be used to take over Air France routes.

They also worried new hires would be concentrated in lower-wage EU countries to avoid higher wages and related salary costs in France.

Agreements concluded since then guarantee Air France pilots who volunteer to fly for Transavia will retain their original contracts, but work under salary and benefit conditions signed with Transavia while working for the airline.

The accord also revises an agreement signed between Air France and the SNPL when Transavia was created in 2007 that limited the size of low-cost carrier's fleet. The new accord raises Transavia's ceiling from 14 to 40 planes.

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© 2014 AFP

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