Air France entices pilots to move to Transavia

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Air France has offered its pilots incentives equivalent to five to six months of salary to transfer to its low-cost subsidiary Transavia France.

The pilots are currently considering new collective labour agreements proposed by the airline, by means of a referendum to members of the SNPL union and have been offered one-off deals to switch worth as much as €60,000 ($74,160) each.

The incentives are for between €30,000 for a first officer and €60,000 for a captain. At Tranasvia the pilots will keep the same salaries they earn at Air France, but will be expected to work around 15% more hours.

As part of a restructuring process of the Air France-KLM group dubbed Transform 2015, Air France says it will develop Transavia France's fleet to between 20 and 22 aircraft by 2015-16,compared with eight today.

The results of SNPL's referendum will be known by mid-August.

However the new agreements proposed to Air France's cabin crew have been rejected. As a result the SkyTeam carrier says it is preparing unilateral measures to allow it to reach a 20% increase in economic efficiency and that "compensatory measures set out in the initial agreementwill no longer be guaranteed."

Earlier this year, Air France chief executive Alexandre de Juniac pledged that if the airline's unions accepted the new labour deals, no forced redundancies would be imposed during 2012 or 2013.

Overall Air France hopes to reduce its staff numbers by 5,122 - from a total of 49,301 - by December 2013. Around 1,700 of those will have departed by the end of next year, leaving around 2,056 ground staff, 904 cabin crew and 450 pilots facing redundancy.

The ground staff agreement has already been signed by a majority of their representative unions.