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Air France 777-300ER (Air France photo Claire-Lise HAVET)

 

On Wednesday September 24th 2014, Air France’s massive 10-days old strike by its pilots was already equaling in duration the longest in its history that took place in 1998. With the carrier losing anywhere near $20 million per day, forecast by management that 46% of the flights would be ensured was slightly lower than the 48% seen the day before on Tuesday. Only 52% of the pilots were expected to strike for the day against 65% on Monday and 57% on Tuesday, the day where 200-300 pilots demonstrated in front of parliament.

The story on the operation tells a even more catastrophic story especially in the long haul fleet that brings the highest revenue for the global carrier. Traffic appeared to have ground to a virtual halt with no more than 40 flights in the air at the middle of the day rush-hour time, when normally most of the long haul fleet has departed Paris Roissy CDG Airport. Of these 40 flights, only 14 would be assigned to the long haul fleet; the single A380 flying is scheduled for San Francisco, 2 flights are due for New York JFK (a 777-300ER and a A330-200), 2 flights to Tokyo (two 777-300ER to Narita and Haneda), Saigon would see a 777-200, Santiago a 777-300ER, Bogota a A340-300, Libreville would be served with a 777-300ER, Cayenne with a A340-300, Pointe Noire with a A330-200, Yaounde with a 777-200, Beirut A340-300, and Niamey with a A340-300.

Yet it is expected that Thursday will be even worse with 67% of pilots staying off the job that day.

The current strike was initiated by the powerful SNPL (National Airline Pilot Syndicate) union backed by the SPAF (Air France Pilot Syndicate) union out of fears that by expanding its Transavia low cost subsidiary operating bases throughout Europe, Air France intended to recruit lower paid pilots. Very timid response from management seem to indicate that it hopes the movement will exhaust itself. The calls for strike are set to expire on Friday September 26th for SPAF affiliated pilots, and on the 30th for SNPL members.

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