Air France cancels 30 percent of flights amid strikes

French flag carrier Air France has announced massive flight cancellations due to strikes by cabin crews and ground staff for the fifth straight day over pay.

Air France announced on Friday that nearly 30 percent of its flights would be canceled across the country on Saturday.

The cancellation rate is believed to be the biggest during any Air France walkouts so far.

One-quarter of long-haul flights into and out of Paris will be cancelled. So will 35 percent of medium-distance flights at the capital’s Charles de Gaulle airport. Air France also announced that 30 percent of regional flights at Orly airport in Paris and other French cities will be cancelled.

Personnel have been demanding a pay raise. Executives, troubled by the strikes and resultant losses, have nevertheless remained defiant.

Jean-Marc Janaillac, the chief executive of parent company Air France-KLM said on Friday that the demanded six-percent pay raise would not be possible, adding that the strikes had already cost Air France 25 million euros per day.

Janaillac also claimed that despite an operating profit of 600 million euros last year, the airliner’s profit margin was only four percent, “the lowest of all European airlines.”

Authorities have offered a one-percent increase.

Labor unions, however, insist that workers deserve to benefit from years of belt-tightening measures by Air France that have brought the airliner back to operating profitability, after enduring effective wage freeze since 2011.

“We’ve been doing our part for years,” said Gregoire Aplincourt of the Spaf union, the second-largest among Air France pilots. “What we’re saying now is, ‘Invest in your employees.’”

Unions have called for further strikes for April 10, 11, 17, 18, 23, and 24.

The industrial action by Air France personnel comes amid persisting rolling strikes by rail workers at state-owned SNCF railways, as well as protests by students, public servants, energy workers, and garbage collectors.

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