Pilot unions threaten strike over safety fears

An Air France plane at an embarkation slot at Paris Orly airport

Walkout called after pilot removed from flight for refusing to take off without fully trained cabin crew

Pilots unions have threatened to strike in support of an Air France captain was removed from a flight when he refused to take off for safety reasons.

Unions representing Air France pilots have said their members will strike on Thursday, January 11, unless they receive 'a satisfactory response' to their concerns over the pilot's treatment, and promises over what they describe as 'disputed provisions' in the airline's operating manual.

The strike threat comes after a captain was removed from a flight "against his will", unions said, because he refused to take off from Paris-Orly airport "for safety reasons" as no qualified cabin attendant was on board.

The pilot was prepared to wait until a member of staff trained to handle in-flight incidents or in case of evacuation was available, the unions said. They claim the airline wanted the flight to take off with a steward on board who was not fully trained.

The unions say that the airline's decision "tramples a fundamental rule" that demands the safety of a flight is the responsibility of the aeroplane's captain, and "violates the provisions of the transport code and the Civil Aviation code relating to the prerogatives of captains".

Pilots "cannot accept to do their jobs under pressure from a management that puts profitability far ahead of passenger, crew and aircraft safety," the unions said.

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