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Air France strike costs soar

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 02:01

Hundreds of Air France pilots stage a protest in front of the French parliament as their strike goes into a 9th day. As Ivor Bennett reports the dispute highlights the challenges the French government faces in trying to reform its struggling economy.

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9 days and counting - pilots at Air France are showing no sign of backing down. Hundreds taking their protest to the steps of the French Parliament. The latest demonstration comes despite a deal from management. Air France offering to postpone its expansion plans for low-cost brand Transavia pending further talks. It's the first concession in a bitter dispute, but still not enough for pilots. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AIR FRANCE PILOT BRUNO BENOIST-LUCY SAYING: "We want Transavia Europe not to be suspended, we want Transavia Europe to be cancelled, we want it to be shelved, never to be seen again. Transavia Europe is nothing else but offshoring of French jobs within the European Commission (Union), which is unheard of." Air France is reluctant to abandon the rollout - a move it sees as necessary to compete with budget rivals. Much of the business though would be developed outside France. The pilots have some of the best working conditions in Europe at the moment, and they fear that could be lost. Their continued zeal though has drawn fierce criticism from the top. Prime minster Manuel Valls now wading in. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRIME MINISTER, MANUEL VALLS, SAYING: "There is no reason for this strike, the French don't understand it, it damages France's image and it represents a real danger for the Air France company." The strike is costing the company up to 20 million euros a day. Its shares dropped 5 percent on Monday and it now plans to review its 2014 earnings targets. IG's Chris Beauchamp says the dispute shines a light on the country's wider problems. SOUNDBITE (English) CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, MARKET ANALYST, IG, SAYING: "It's a very strong sign that industrial relations within France will take a long time to change. In fact, it's doubtful really you can even change them at all. So if France is going to move onwards with economic reforms then this kind of industrial dispute has to become a thing of the past." 60 percent of Air France flights have been grounded on almost a daily basis since the strike began. With no end in sight, passengers may face a long wait for things to go back to normal.

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Air France strike costs soar

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 02:01