By John McDermott
Air France, Pilot Union Agree to Domestic Restructuring
Air France and its main union, SNPL, have agreed to a restructuring that will allow Transavia France to fly domestic routes, Air France-KLM Group announced in a press release. The agreement will allow Transavia France to operate on domestic Air France flights and changes mid-range activity guarantees in line with changes to the carrier’s domestic changes.
Transavia will receive routes from Air France and HOP!, Air France’s regional subsidiary. Air France and HOP! could see their domestic services cut by as much as 40% as routes will be transferred to Transavia.
Air France-KLM says the agreement will “strengthen its strategic position in Paris by capitalizing on the strengths of [various group airlines].” While HOP! and Air France will continue focusing on operations out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Air France will “transform and diversify its network” at Paris-Orly to both short-haul and long-haul destinations.
Transavia France will continue growing from its bases in Nantes, Lyon and Montpellier, and it will develop its brand to remain competitive in the low-cost market. It is set to announce details of the new routes it will fly, including timetables and when they’ll open, soon.
“The rapid signing of this agreement is a major step forward in the Air France-KLM group’s rebound strategy,” said Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith in the press release. “While our sector is going through an unprecedented crisis and entering a phase of profound change, we have taken an essential step in order to sustainably improve our economic and environmental performance. Transavia France is a differentiating asset for the group and today we are opening a new chapter in its development, in consultation with all the stakeholders, determined to help Air France win.”
“Thanks to this new offer, the Air France group is giving itself the means to be competitive in each of the segments in which it operates and offers the right tools for each, with a product and an adapted model – positioning in the leisure, regional, connections and point-to-point, short, medium and long-haul offer, economy class, premium economy, business and La Première offer, Flying Blue loyalty program,” the press release reads. Air France Group is a subsidiary of Air France-KLM.
“Air France’s domestic market is a strategic asset for the group, and connecting the French regions to each other and to the world is an integral part of our mission. To be able to continue to provide it, it is now essential to bring this activity back to balance,” said Anne Rigail, chief executive of Air France. “I salute the quality of the dialogue we have had with all the social partners to give Air France the means to achieve this by 2023, making the best use of the unique strengths of the various companies in the group.”
“Coupled with the renewal of our fleet, this reorganization of our activity will also enable us to achieve our objectives in terms of sustainable development, with a 505 reduction in our domestic CO2 emissions by 2024,” Rigail continued.
Air France has tried to make similar moves before, but this is the first time that both the airline and the unions have agreed to formal amendments that will allow Transavia to operate domestic services. The coronavirus pandemic, which has forced Air France to cut over 7,500 jobs, is a driving force in the agreement as Air France is looking to restructure and cut costs wherever possible.