Air France has announced that today will be the last day of pilot strikes after four days of severe disruptions.
However, the airline will not have resolved the ongoing debacle unless a late deal is struck by midnight tonight.
As of Tuesday 18 November, Air France is expecting a return to normal service with 100 per cent of long-haul flights going ahead and 95 per cent of short and medium-haul flights operating as planned.
Air France has recovered from Friday when the strike began. The airline originally planned to cut 40 per cent of its long-haul services and 50 per cent of its short and medium-haul flights.
Today’s announcement saw little change to medium-haul destinations like Turkey with 50 per cent of flights remaining cancelled. However, long-haul holidays got a boost with 76 per cent of the flights returned to operational capacity. Air France’s sister airline, Dutch KLM has not been affected by the strikes.
The strike began on Friday as a retaliation to new legal adjustments which were passed by the French government. Under the new law, the pilots’ retirement age will be postponed from 60 to 65 years of age.
In a press statement, Air France wished to clarify its position regarding the pilots’ strike: “The parliamentary amendment in question postpones the date at which French pilots’ cease work from 60 to 65, not their retirement age.”
The statement continued: “Each pilot will decide on a purely voluntary basis, whether to continue working after the age of 60, or to stop working at that date. Pilots who decide to stop working at age 60 will be able to do so and benefit from the same pension as today.”
Jean-Cyril Spinneta, Air France’s chairman told the BBC that the strike was unnecessary and dangerous given the current economic climate. The disruption caused to early winter holidays over the past four days has cost the airline ?100 million.
With no resolution to the dispute, there will be an uneasy truce when the pilots resume flights as normal tomorrow. However, travellers may be nervous of future strikes, especially in the crucial run up to Christmas if no agreeable solution can be reached between Air France and its staff.