The management of the airline group Air France confirmed on Friday the launch of a readjustment plan to cut 7,580 jobs in the country in the next three years to face the “hard blow” due to the coronavirus health crisis.
The departures will affect 6,560 Air France employees, which represents 16% of its more than 40,000 employees, and some 1,020 from HOP !, its regional subsidiary, as indicated by information leaked this week by the social partners.
The decision was confirmed today during an extraordinary committee that lasted a good part of the day, while hundreds of employees gathered in front of the company headquarters in Nantes (west) and Roissy (periphery of Paris) to denounce the measures, for which they did not rule out applying direct layoffs.
“For three months, Air France’s activity and turnover has fallen 95%, and during the worst of the crisis the company has lost 15 million euros a day,” the company said in a statement after the meetings.
The recovery will be “very slow” due to the “numerous uncertainties that persist in the health situation, the lifting of travel restrictions and the evolution of commercial demand,” added the group.
This situation leads them to predict that the activity level of 2019 will not recover before 2024, forcing them to act with “lucidity and responsibility” to prepare for the transformation that will be based on the change in the model of their domestic activity, the reorganization of its functions and cut costs.
The group insisted that, in the case of Air France, the many expected retirements (more than 3,500) will serve to offset more than half of the 6,560 job reduction announced between now and the end of 2022.
In the case of HOP !, the restructuring of the company and the reduction in activity justify for them the cut in personnel, for those who estimate that in this period there are already 820 natural departures out of the 1,020 they want to complete.
However, unions fear that early retirements and voluntary departures will not be enough to cover that figure and fear direct layoffs.
The news is confirmed after a day marked by hostility: management planned to communicate its decision in two meetings with staff representatives, one about Air France in Montreuil, outside Paris, and another about its subsidiary HOP !, in the Nantes airport, for which the decision would mean ending 40% of its troops.
But, according to the regional press, fifty people chained themselves first thing in the morning before the entrance to prevent access to the headquarters against what they consider a “programmed disappearance” of the company.
In the case of HOP! It also plans to close twelve of the 14 personnel bases it has in the country and the maintenance centers in the towns of Lille and Morlaix.
Air France suffers the blow of the health crisis that has already led to massive restructuring plans in its international competitors, such as Germany’s Lufthansa or England’s British Airways, with tens of thousands of alleged suppressed.
At the end of April, Air France received 7 billion euros in loans from the French state, which is a shareholder, on condition of improving its profitability and its environmental impact, which led its director, Benjamin Smith, to announce in late May a 40% reduction of its deficit national network.