French politicians denounce bedlam at Air France protest


French politicians on Tuesday denounced the mayhem at the headquarters of flag carrier Air France, and called for dialogue between workers protesting 2,900 planned job cuts and managers who faced angry crowds when leaving their executive meeting.

Photos of two managers who had their shirts ripped off Monday when leaving an Air France meeting on restructuring, which included job cuts, have been widely circulated.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was “scandalized” by the scene and was scheduled to go to the Air France headquarters on Tuesday.

French President Francois Hollande said it was necessary to pursue dialogue. “When it is interrupted by violence, by disputes that take unacceptable forms, it could have consequence for the image of attractiveness,” Hollande was quoted by BFMTV as saying.

Air France, which is 17.58 per cent owned by the French government, has been seeking to boost its competitive edge with other carriers.

On Monday, Air France executives said they had decided on a restructuring plan that would include an elimination of 2,900 posts – including 300 pilots, 900 cabin crew and 1,700 ground staff.

Air France chief executive Frederic Gagey said the carrier would also reduce its long-haul flights by 10 per cent by 2017, close five of its routes and cancel 35 weekly flights.

He said the reductions would mainly be concentrated in Asia and the Middle East, where airline losses are at their highest.