Air Littoral has cancelled options for five Bombardier CanadairRegional Jets (CRJs) due to be delivered in 1998. The action follows a pilots' strike begun on 13 October and was still under way as Flight International went to press.

The dispute, which has hit up to 60% of flights, is over a claim by the pilots that maintenance aboard the Montpellier, France-based regional aircraft is unsatisfactory, and is compromising the safety of the 30-aircraft fleet. The airline's directors have denounced a leaflet distributed to passengers by the pilots asserting a lowering of safety standards and has confirmed their confidence in its president, Marc Dufour.

The resulting split between the pilots and ground-support personnel deepened when the ground staff formed their own group to protest the pilots' action, demanding that they accept independent mediation by government inspectors on maintenance standards.

Air Littoral has 16 CRJs on order, the first batch of nine already in service, the second batch having been ordered in January, along with options on five more aircraft, due to enter service in 1998. These have been cancelled - although an early settlement of the dispute could see the options re-activated. Air Littoral says that the cost is around Fr5 million ($833,000) a day .

The carrier had been forecasting a 20% growth in turnover for 1997, to Fr 1.5 billion, with profits before tax of around Fr20 million.

Source: Flight International