A pilot union at the French arm of Air France-KLM called for a one-day strike next week in a further sign of labor strife across the European aviation industry.
The Alter group is set to walk out on June 25 to protest what it describes as mounting safety risks related to the carrier ramping up capacity during the busy season, its head Alexandre Rio said by phone.
The union represents about 10% of the airline’s pilots and no impact is foreseen from the strike, according to an Air France spokesman. The much bigger SNPL organization isn’t calling for strikes, a representative of that union said.
“We’re working with all pilot unions,” Air France Chief Executive Officer Anne Rigail said Thursday. “I think the strategy of making this summer a success is well understood by our pilots so we’re not anticipating a problem.”
The possibility of disruptions at Air France comes as European carriers struggle to maintain services, while airports like Amsterdam’s Schiphol and hubs in the UK. struggle with labor shortages. Paris airport unions have also called for a second day of strike action on July 2 to demand higher pay after a protest last week.
Ryanair Holdings Plc’s labor organizations in Spain, Belgium, France, Italy and Portugal have been coordinating to organize continent-wide action that could further disrupt travel for holidaymakers.
Air France is operating about 90% of its capacity and all of its fleet, Rigail said. The company has increased flights to the U.S. by a fifth compared with 2019, while hiring 300 pilots, 200 mechanics and seasonal workers along with 500 other staff.
“There is effectively a crisis that has been added to the ending of Covid,” she said at the event organized by the AJPAE journalists’ group. “In other airports we have seen flights canceled because there weren’t enough security agents or people to maintain runways but this isn’t what is happening at Paris hubs.”
Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith achieved labor peace at Air France after years of strife that led to the departure of his predecessor. The planned pilots’ strike may signal the mood is changing.
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