French unions Union des Navigants de L’Aviation Civile and Syndicat des Navigants du Groupe Air France have warned that a strike action could take place over the Christmas and New Year period, amid a dispute over working conditions.
The unions filed a strike notice after a collective agreement between staff and management — first put in place in 1999, and being renegotiated this fall — was not extended when it expired in October 2022.
Without the collective agreement, the airline has the final say over the cabin crew and flight staff’s work schedules.
The major sticking point for unions is the ratio of cabin crew to passengers on long-haul flights, according to a report by Le Monde. One flight attendant to every 48 passengers was the norm, but Air France initially wanted to see the passenger number rise to 51, reportedly for profitability.
The airline has since dropped its ask down to 50 passengers per cabin crew member.
Simple Flying also notes that salaries are at issue in the dispute, especially if the new ratio comes into force. However, some 38,000 cabin crew, pilots and ground staff for Air France received a 1,000-euros bonus ($1,034.19) and a 5% pay increase in September.
Air France has said it had “taken note of the strike notice” — though it added that negotiations on reinstating the collective agreement are due to continue beyond January 2023.
Note that if your flight is affected by a strike action you’ll be entitled to a full refund and maybe even compensation.
Strikes affecting flights to and from France aren’t news to regular travelers. Around 50% of French flights were canceled on Sept. 16 this year (a reported 1,000-plus flights), as air traffic controllers took action over pay and working conditions.
Walkouts have been commonplace across Europe in recent months, with various air travel strikes hitting Spain, Portugal, Italy and others, on top of countless U.K. train strikes affecting travel.
However, some walkouts have been avoided, too.
A strike planned by British Airways ground staff at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) was narrowly averted in July, and Scandinavian airline SAS and German carrier Lufthansa struck deals with pilots in September amid union discussions.