August 30, 2018 / 9:47 AM / 3 months ago

Air France unions brandish new strike threat

FILE PHOTO - An Air France airplane takes off at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France-KLM’s (AIRF.PA) French unions voiced impatience on Thursday with a frozen pay dispute, threatening renewed industrial action unless the airline group resumes talks that were curtailed by its chief executive’s resignation in May.

The group has refused to reopen pay talks pending the arrival of its next CEO Ben Smith in late September. Strikes earlier this year cost the airline 335 million euros (300.94 million pounds) and led to his predecessor Jean-Marc Janaillac’s exit.

Unions representing pilots, cabin crew and ground staff are demanding a 5.1 percent pay hike to compensate for a five-year erosion of real wages due to inflation.

“The completely irresponsible attitude of Air France managers has led the unions to conclude that only a significant hardening of the conflict will force them to resolve it permanently,” a cross-union grouping said in a statement read outside a works council meeting taking place near Paris.

Squeezed between long-haul competition from Middle Eastern carriers and low-cost regional rivals, Air France-KLM has struggled to overhaul costs and services the way British Airways (ICAG.L) or Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) have done.

Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer and Laurence Frost; editing by David Evans

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