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Air France to release more than 5 000 staff

Sapa-AFP Paris

Air France would cut more than 5 000 jobs or about 10 percent of its workforce in voluntary departures by 2014, the French airline said yesterday.

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo, Air France planes are parked on the tarmac at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, in Roissy, near Paris. Air France says Thursday June 21, 2012 it is aiming to reduce staff numbers by more than 10 percent, after a sustained slide in income. The airline is presenting a plan to its works council that would cut 5,122 employees through a process of voluntary redundancies and not filling vacant positions. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File). Credit: AP

A total of 5 122 jobs would be shed and the struggling carrier said all departures would be voluntary provided a new framework agreement could be signed with unions.

The airline said: “Air France has chosen to work in complete transparency and to privilege social dialogue to find structural and sustainable solutions, included in corporate agreements.”

If new framework agreements were signed by staff then “Air France has pledged not to make redundancies and to implement various measures to support the necessary reduction in staff numbers”.

Air France-KLM has launched a major cost-saving programme after posting a loss of e809 million (R8.4 billion) for 2011 and a first-quarter net loss in 2012 of e368m.

Shares in the struggling Franco-Dutch airline group shot up by 6 percent after the job cuts announcement.

The company said the new framework agreement was “a major condition” of its recovery” and the carrier needed to raise economic efficiency by 20 percent by the end of 2014.

Air France said the Central Works Council would have draft agreements for signing by unions next Thursday.

“If the agreements are signed, the accompanying measures to reduce staff numbers will exclude the use of forced departures before the end of 2013,” Air France said.

The plan would be evaluated in the second half of 2013 and if the 20 percent improvement was achieved “the use of forced departures will also be avoided in 2014”, it said.

If the agreements were not signed then the improved efficiency would be achieved “in a much more economically constrained context”.

Chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said Air France was facing “a fundamental choice about its future. If we all make the necessary equitably distributed efforts, there will be no forced departures.”

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