Air France re-groups regional subsidiaries under one brand

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Brit Air, Regional and Airlinair will operate under a new single brand from April 2013.

The development comes after Air France had previously said the three subsidiaries and affiliates would be re-grouped into a single French regional hub as part of the streamlining of its short and medium-haul services.

The SkyTeam carrier says that the strategy will involve re-positioning its regional services to provide "a new commercial offer ... which is more competitive for business and leisure travel, both inter-regional and to Europe".

Details about the brand, pricing structure and flight schedule will be announced in January 2013 before the official launch in April of the same year. Air France says that despite the single brand, the carriers will not be merged and they will retain separate air operator's certificates (AOCs).

Airlinair chief executive Lionel Guérin, who is tasked with the reorganisation of the regional hub, says: "This new French regional division aims to specialise more than ever in services to the provinces ... In a competitive and increasingly difficult economic environment, it is essential to make changes."

In 2013, the new entity will operate 86 aircraft instead of the present number of 93, which Air France says will result in a reduction of 64 jobs. This comprises five flight attendants and 12 pilots at Brit Air, out of 587 aircrew; as well 47 pilots at Regional, out of a total of 409. Airlinair will not lose any employees and may increase its staffing levels.

Air France says pilots may be offered the chance to transfer from the other two regional airlines.

The flag carrier adds that the methods used to cope with excess staffing levels will be the same as those deployed at its mainline operation, without forced redundancies. It also expects staff to agree to revised rosters in order to deliver an improvement in economic efficiency of 15%.

Having presented its plans to the works councils of Brit Air and Regional today, Air France expects to begin negotiating with unions around the end of September.