Air France-KLM boss quits over continued strikes

BOLOGNA, ITALY - APRIL 5, 2015: Boarding Air France Jet airplane at Bologna airport.

France’s economy minister has warned the future of Air France hangs in the balance after the group’s chief executive walked out over continuing strikes. 

The chief executive of parent company Air France-KLM (EPA: AF), Jean-Marc Janaillac, announced his resignation on Friday after the company employees rejected a pay deal worth seven percent over four years.

“I accept the consequences of this vote and will tender my resignation to the boards of Air France and Air France-KLM in coming days,” he said.

Bruno Le Maire, the French economy minister, said: “I call on everyone to be responsible: crew, ground staff, and pilots who are asking for unjustified pay hikes. Be responsible. The survival of Air France is in the balance.”

He warned that the future of the group “will disappear if it does not make the necessary efforts to be competitive. We’re minority shareholders … those that think that whatever happens the state will come to Air France’s rescue and soak up Air France’s losses are mistaken.”

Walkouts by pilots and ground staff have cost the loss-making airline group €300 million (£265 million).

Despite the strikes that are set to continue over this week, the airline giant says it would be able to continue 99 percent of long-haul flights, 80 percent of medium-haul and 87 percent of short-haul flights on Monday.

One-sixth of the airline is owned by the French government, who will not bail out the airline. KLM has not been affected by the strikes.

The company reported a net loss of €269 million (£238 million) in the first three months of 2018.

The strikes by employees at the French airline coincide with rail strikes in France with walk-outs to protest against Emmanuel Macron’s planned overhaul of the state-run train operator SNCF.