September 17, 2019 / 6:59 AM / 5 months ago

France hoping for better rescue offers for Aigle Azur airline

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A320-200 aircraft, operated by Aigle Azur, lands at Orly Airport near Paris, France, September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government is hoping for improved offers for insolvent airline Aigle Azur and that any offer from Air France (AIRF.PA) will save as many Aigle Azur jobs as possible, junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on Tuesday.

“I am hoping that the offers will be improved,” Djebbari told FranceInfo radio.

Privately held Aigle Azur was put under bankruptcy protection on Sept. 2 and eventually had to halt operations, after the airline - like others in its sector - suffered from the effects of higher fuel costs and tough competition.

Both Air France and EasyJet (EZJ.L) have expressed an interest in putting in rescue offers for Aigle Azur.

Djebbari added that the French government, which has a 14.3% stake in Air France KLM, was making “serious demands” on Air France so that any offer it made for Aigle Azur would result in the maximum number of jobs being saved.

Air France, which submitted an initial proposal last week, has agreed to combine its bid with Air Caraibes parent Dubreuil group, two sources told Reuters earlier.

The CFDT and CFTC trade unions which together represent a majority of Aigle Azur’s 800 French staff have also offered to renegotiate contracts with Air France and Air Caraibes.

Shares in Air France KLM were down 1.2% in early session trading, reflecting the impact of higher oil prices following an attack on Saudi oil facilities and concerns about pressure from the French government regarding an Aigle Azur rescue.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Editing by Sarah White

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