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Air France cuts up to 5,000 jobs

Airline aims to cut non-fuel costs by 20% - and, for first time, allow pilots to take voluntary redundancy

AIR France is set to cut 5,000 jobs over the next three years as part of a new business plan aimed to get it back into the black.

Le Figaro said the airline aimed to cut its non-fuel costs by 20%.

The new plan would transfer some leisure flights to its low-cost carrier Transavia, cut costs in economy class and improve the comfort in business class. The number of dedicated freight planes would be reduced as would maintenance costs.

However, another news source, La Tribune said that only up to 3,000 employes would go - and an Air France spokesman denied that any figures had so far been agreed.

Employees were given an outline of what was needed in March and have since been negotiating over the company's call for an increase in working hours plus possible job cuts.

One senior manager at Air France told Le Figaro: "We cannot keep staff who are surplus to requirements; it would be better to pay them to go."

However, although final details will not be known until the end of June, the newspaper said it had been told that a total of 5,000 jobs would go under voluntary redundancy.

At the moment 800 staff leave the company each year and over the past four years Air France has already cut 4,000 posts, including 1,800 who took voluntary redundancy after 2009.

This time the process is open to all staff: ground crew, cabin crew and, for the first time, pilots. The company has 4,000 pilots, including 590 over-55s but the retirement age is 65.

Air France says at least 500 pilots have more than 25 years' service - and will benefit from the maximum redundancy pay-out. Already pilots with Air France sister company KLM can retire at 57, while British Airways pilots retire at 54.

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