Game over. After 14 days of strike, Air France management and their biggest pilots’ union (SNPL) have finally reached an agreement. As demanded by the pilots, the "Transavia Europe" project, has been abandoned. Air France KLM CEO has, however, not ceded to the demand of the strikers to a single contract for Air France and Transavia pilots. Ultimately, what was the longest running conflict for Air France, will lead to serious consequences.
With operating losses of 15 to 20 million euros per day due to the strike, the final bill for Air France should be close to 250 million euros ; the equivalent of a new Airbus A-350, 25 units of which, thecompany ordered in June 2013.
Despite 7,000 employees being mobilized to serve customers, over three million S.M.S’s. sent to inform them of the state of traffic, and reduced to a little over, on average, half of Air France flights cancelled, an increasing number of passengers expressed discontent. However, is the company’s image tarnished after this conflict? Passengers are divided on the issue.
- « This is negative for the company, because they will lose clients. »
- « I don’t think that it will affect the image of Air France really, because very often people are going on strike that affects tourists like the ferries, ports... »
- « I don’t think the Air France strike has a negative impact on the company. Right now, there are strikes in almost all businesses, so... »
FRENCH AIRPORT ACTIVITY
Air France holds a 77% market share of domestic flights, the pilots’ strike has undoubtedly had a direct impact on French airport activity - positive one for some. Hotels took advantage of the situation, and the stranded passengers, at Orly and Roissy Airports for example, whose room rates increased by 30 to 45%.
But the biggest losers are undoubtedly the taxi drivers’, shopkeepers’ and business owners’ expected customers at airports during the last two weeks, like here in Toulouse ( south west France ). Their September turnover will drop significantly compared to a normal month.
One man's loss is another man's gain... Some passenger-carrying companies readily took advantage of this industrial action ; starting with the SNCF (French national railway company). During the two-week strike, they saw their traffic increase by 5%.
And then, there are other airlines operating in France, who, during the conflict, increased adverts for low-cost tickets and additional flights. One example was the British easyJet, with the announcement of some additional 3,000 extra seats on its main routes.
Finally, business aviation also picked up some healthy business. PrivateFly, a private jet booking centre, for example, recorded a 60% increase in its activity.
All of this will probably continue a little longer, because even though this Air France pilots’ strike is well and truly over, the return to normal will be gradual, and not expected within the next 24-48 hours.