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Air France shares slide amid CEO's resignation, continued strike action

08 May 2018, 01:39 | Myrtle Vega

United we stand Alex Ferguson transformed Manchester's Red Devils

United we stand Alex Ferguson transformed Manchester's Red Devils

In early bourse business Air France stock was down almost 13 percent at 7.08 euros.

Unionised staff are set to walk out for the 14th day on Monday as they press for a 5.1 percent salary increase this year as the company recovers from years of losses and restructuring.

CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac's attempt to cut costs at the carrier to keep up with competition from budget airlines and Gulf rivals ran into strong union resistance, as had his predecessor's efforts, raising questions over its ability to reform.

The French government owns 14.3% of the Air France-KLM parent group.

Janaillac warned previous year that volatile fuel prices and geopolitical risks could threaten the company's turnaround, but didn't appear to predict the heavy toll that the strikes would take.

Regardless of the strike, the carrier demanded that it is ready to keep up 99% of whole deal flights on Monday, 80% of medium-pull administrations and 87% of short-pull flights.

He called for responsibility on the part of striking workers, adding the airline's survival was at stake and that the French government will not offer a bailout.

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Shares in Air France-KLM crashed as much as 14.5% on Monday after the group's CEO quit over a pay dispute and the French government said it would not intervene to help.

The announcement of Janaillac's departure came as Air France-KLM released its first-quarter earnings, which showed a net loss of 269 million euros ($322 million), weighed down by three days of strikes which cost about 25 million euros per day according to the company.

British Airways and Lufthansa have already undergone heavy cost-cutting in recent years, amid rising competition from low-priced airlines and carriers from the Gulf states.

Air France-KLM is in danger of "disappearing" amid a series of continuing strikes, said France's economy minister on Monday.

Air France got merged with Dutch bearer KLM in 2004. Unions, led by the powerful pilots' lobby, had wanted a larger up front percentage and no conditions on further raises.

Until new management plans are in place, Air France executives lack a mandate to continue negotiations with unions, prolonging the dispute.

Analysts have compared a rejection of management's pay proposal by workers to "pressing the self destruct button".



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