Air France pilots threaten with a strike after “disembarkation” of a captain

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All Air France pilots’ unions denounced Thursday the non-compliance by the management of a “fundamental rule” of civil aviation, which “for security reasons” entrusts the pilot-in-command of a flight “with the responsibility of the mission“, and threatened with a strike next Thursday.

In a joint statement, the three Air France pilots’ unions – SNPL, SPAF and Alter – denounce the “disembarkation” Tuesday by the company of a captain who had refused “for security reasons” to carry out a flight departing from Paris Orly airport “with a downgraded crew composition“.

By replacing the captain “against his will“, the management “has chosen, in an unprecedented manner, to trample on this fundamental rule“, which entrusts “the captain in charge of a flight with the responsibility of the mission“. It “violates the provisions of the Transport Code and the Civil Aviation Code relating to the prerogatives of commanders,” said the unions.

They want the management “to recognise that this decision did not comply with the respect of the prerogatives of the commanders” and “recalls the scope of these prerogatives to the entire management“. They also ask for amendments to the “contentious provisions” of the Air France operating manual that could give rise to “interpretations” concerning these prerogatives.

If “no satisfactory answer” is provided, the three unions “will call the pilots to stop work” on January 11th. A notice of strike was to be filed during the day, Philippe Evain, president of the SNPL, told AFP.

Tuesday, in the absence of a “qualified chef de cabine” for a flight departing from Orly, the management wanted to “appoint a steward to perform this function“, that is to say “someone who does not have the knowledge for this vital role” in case of incident, evacuation, explained Mr. Evain. The pilot asked for a “competent flight attendant” and offered to wait “for one to be available” and the management “landed” him, he added.

The pilots “cannot accept to exercise their profession under the pressure of a management that puts the questions of profitability far in front of the safety of the passengers, the crew members and the aircraft“, the unions underline.

Air France reacts

Air France has been informed that the pilots unions intends to issue a strike warning for 11 January. The company regrets this response to a situation that had no impact on the prerogatives of the captain or on onboard safety.

Air France always ensures that crew composition complies with regulations and with the airline’s operating manual as approved by the DGAC (French civil aviation authority).

The personnel “acting” as pursers have all received training, approved by the Authority, enabling them to carry out their role in the same way as any other appointed purser. This procedure is fully compliant with regulations. It is implemented in exceptional operating circumstances, such as absence owing to sickness, in order to avoid cancelling flights at short notice with the resulting inconvenience for passengers.

In the specific case of flight AF 7480 of 2 January, the captain did not wish to fly in these conditions. To avoid cancelling the flight at short notice, he was therefore replaced by another captain.

The management of Air France is at the disposal of the unions and pilots to discuss the situation and answer any questions.

Source: AFP, SNPNC, Air France

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