Le Maire Warns Air France Will Disappear If Unions Block Reforms

(Bloomberg) -- French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that excessive salary demands and strikes by unions at Air France-KLM Group could sink Europe’s largest airline.

“If it doesn’t make the necessary efforts to be at the same competitive level of Lufthansa and other major airlines, it will disappear,” Le Maire said on BFM TV on Sunday. The union’s salary demands are “unjustified” and employees must show “responsibility,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Janaillac resigned Friday after failing to reach a wage agreement with employees. Air France shares dropped the most in six months after the company said full-year results may fall short of 2017 levels due to rising fuel prices and the strong euro. Employees have been staging walkouts since February and voted against a salary offer from the company.

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Rotating two-day walkouts have taken their toll, with the carrier warning that the strikes will wipe out at least 300 million euros ($359 million) in operating profit.

Le Maire said French taxpayers won’t bail the company out.

“I am not taking the money of the French and putting it in a company that isn’t at the required competitive level,” he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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