Air France strike drags on as marathon talks stall

Air France strike drags on as marathon talks stall

PARIS - The longest ever strike by Air France pilots dragged into its 12th day on Friday after marathon talks again failed to break a deadlock over the airline's low-cost subsidiary.

"The situation is blocked right now," said Julien Duboz, a spokesman for one of the pilot's unions SPAF said after talks ended on Thursday.

The striking pilots at Europe's second largest carrier are digging in despite a concession from management which saw them bury plans to expand low-cost subsidiary Transavia into Europe.

"This was a necessary condition but not enough" to stop the strike, said Guillaume Schmid, spokesman for the main pilots union SNPL.

The pilots are fighting for a "single contract" across Air-France KLM's subsidiaries to avoid being forced to accept less attractive working conditions at Transavia, which will continue to be developed in France.

Transavia currently serves holiday destinations across Europe and the Mediterranean.

Pilots who earn up to 250,000 euros (S$404,025) a year fear some flights will be replaced with services operated by Transavia, whose pilots earn considerably less.

While Air France management agreed to scrap the development of Transavia abroad, it has vowed not to completely sacrifice its plans to enter the low-cost market, a key "growth opportunity", according to chief executive Alexandre de Juniac.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has warned that the Air France strike was putting the airline's future in danger.

A French survey published by Tilder/LCI/OpinionWay on Thursday found that 69 per cent of 991 adults questioned considered the strike action unjustified.

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