UNION members at Air France have attacked the airline for paying Carla Sarkozy’s fares on a return first-class trip from Paris to New York while the company is facing €2billion in budget cuts.
The union Sud aérien said that while ordinary first-class passengers could pay “between €10,000 and €150,000” for the privilege, ex-president Sarkozy’s wife was given the flights at the end of last month for just €500 – the equivalent of the airport tax – and even that was paid by the airline.
Air France said that former presidents and their families were entitled to free travel on Air France, as well as other travel arrangements such as a chauffeur-driven car and free first-class SNCF trips. These trips were paid for by the state, which covered all the costs.
It added that although it did not comment on first-class prices as they were subject to clients' individual demands, the suggested fare of €150,000 was "unreal" and it could not see how this figure was reached. A first class flight to New York today, returning tomorrow, will cost just over €11,000.
Sud aérien said that while staff were facing cuts in jobs, cuts in crew numbers, new working rotas and a block on pay rises and promotions, Air France boss Alexandre de Juniac was playing the old pals’ act with Mr Sarkozy, in whose office he formerly worked.
It added in a statement: “It’s not a question of Carla Sarkozy herself, it is just that there are rules and these should be applied to everyone; the fact of using the company for friends and friends of friends is scandalous, especially just now when the company is asking staff to make big sacrifices. Air France made us think the company faced catastrophe...”