Air France on Wednesday signed an agreement with its largest pilots’ union—SNPL Air France-Transavia—that will allow group low-cost subsidiary Transavia to operate domestic routes as part of a wider restructuring at Air France-KLM. More than 90 percent of the union members who chose to vote cast ballots in favor of the proposal, which the airline said reflects a sense of responsibility on the part of the pilots to help it emerge from the Covid crisis with a stronger domestic network.
The Air France domestic network has lost money for years despite continuous ongoing restructuring since 2000 due to the “constant growth” of low-cost airlines and the TGV high-speed train network, Air France-KLM said in a statement.
Along with allowing Transavia to operate routes within France, the agreement adjusts pilot guarantees relating to European network activity in line with traffic levels expected on the domestic network over the “coming years.” In September 2019 management and pilots signed an agreement that lifted restrictions on the growth of Transavia's fleet.
In a statement, Air France-KLM called Transavia “a major strategic asset,” allowing Air France to exploit a buoyant leisure market in the country and respond to competition from international LCCs “in an efficient and appropriate way.” Transavia operates more than 100 routes to Europe and the Mediterranean region from its bases at Paris-Orly, Nantes, Lyon, and Montpellier.
Air France said Transavia will start operating domestically out of Paris-Orly while continuing to expand its European network. In Lyon, Air France said, it will consolidate its leadership position with new services from Transavia and regional unit Hop!, while Transavia continues to expand its presence at all four of its bases. Transavia will announce route and schedule details “shortly,” said Air France.
"Air France's domestic market is one of our group's strategic assets,” said Air France CEO Anne Rigail. “Connecting the French regions and linking them to the rest of the world is integral to our business. To ensure this activity continues, it is now essential to restore its balance. I welcome the quality of the dialogue we have had with all our labor partners to ensure Air France achieves this by 2023, by making the best use of our various airlines' unique assets.”