Air France launches new talks to end strike, with chief's job at stake

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France AIRF.PA launched on Friday a new consultation period with staff members to try to end a strike dispute over pay that has so far cost it 220 million euros ($271 million), with the company's head saying his job was on the line.

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Jean-Marc Janaillac, who is chief executive of the Air France KLM parent group and chairman of Air France, said it would be hard for him to stay in his post if the talks failed.

“I cannot see how I could stay at the head of the company,” he said at a news conference on Friday.

Shares in Air France KLM were down 4 percent in late session trading on Friday.

Air France said its latest pay offer of a 7 percent wage increase over 4 years had not received the majority of signatures required by 1200 local Paris time on April 20.

Air France added that Janaillac would now launch a new consultation period.

This consultation by electronic vote, which will begin on April 26 and end early in May, will invite all company staff to give their opinion on the agreement proposed on 16 April 2018, added the airline.

“I cannot accept the disaster unfolding whereas a large majority of staff are not taking part in the strike action,” Janaillac said in a separate statement.

“Therefore, to put an end to this disaster and re-affirm the entire company’s commitment to the growth dynamic, I am calling on everyone to make their voices heard. I will be personally accountable for the consequences of this vote,” he added.

The Air France strikes - which have on general impacted about 30 percent of flights - have coincided with railway strikes in France over the last month, resulting in widespread travel disruption across the country.

Workers at the SNCF state-owned rail firm have launched a series of protests against plans by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to reform the SNCF, which the government says will improve the SNCF’s finances and cut France’s state debt.

Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta/Maya Nikolaeva