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Air France may “disappear” as strikes intensify

France’s economy minister gives a stark warning about the airline’s future prospects.

The survival of Air France is at stake as strikes continue to damage the airline’s fortunes, the country’s economy minister warns.

Bruno Le Maire’s dramatic statement that the airline could “disappear” comes as employees walk out once again over a pay dispute.

Air France-KLM’s chief executive, Jean-Marc Janaillac, resigned over the issue on Friday, as he had promised to do if staff rejected a new pay deal.

The loss-making airline will not be bailed out, the minister said, even though the French state owns 14.3% of the Air France-KLM parent group, one of Europe’s biggest airlines.

Ongoing crisis
Today, employees are on strike for the 14th day, demanding a 5.1% pay rise this year. Tomorrow they are threatening to strike again.

The crisis is seen as a test of labour reforms begun by French President Emmanuel Macron, the BBC reports, while strikes at state-owned rail company SNCF are of a similarly high profile in the media and among the public.

“I call on everyone to be responsible – crew, ground staff and pilots who are asking for unjustified pay hikes,” Le Maire told the French news channel BFM.

“The survival of Air France is in the balance. […] Air France will disappear if it does not make the necessary efforts to be competitive.”

The airline says it can maintain 99% of long-haul flights today, plus 80% of medium-haul flights and 87% of short haul.

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