Air France has emerged from a phase of pilot union talks on a planned new medium- to long-haul unit, and is next seeking flightcrew backing for a proposed agreement drawn up by management.

At a press briefing in Paris on 9 February, Air France-KLM Group chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac said: "Discussion has been ongoing with the pilot union for weeks now."

He added that Air France chief Franck Terner had been conducting the negotiations "quite nonstop" for 10 days before they ended on 8 February.

"We are going to put on the table a project agreement [and] we will ask the unions to approve this agreement," says Janaillac.

He had earlier outlined the rationale for launching what he termed "a new company" within Air France, stating: "It's a project for improving our competitiveness against some of our main competitors, and especially the Gulf carriers."

It is "very difficult to create this competitiveness within Air France", Janaillac argues.

He stresses that the proposed new unit – previously given the internal name 'Boost' – is "not a low-cost carrier" in the same sense as such operators as Norwegian.

Rather, it will retain "the same kind of characteristic as Air France" while its internal organisation allows lower costs, "enabling us to better compete", he says.

There is no confirmed decision on which destinations the new unit will serve. However, Janaillac indicates that its medium-haul operations will begin at the end of this year and the long-haul operations at the end of 2018.

Source: Cirium Dashboard