Air Austral pilots accept loss of income to “save” their jobs

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Air Austral benefited from multiple public aid before being restructured at the start of 2023 with the provision of private capital, while the State abandoned 100 million euros of debts.
Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

“The Air Austral section of the national union of airline pilots (…) has taken its responsibilities” by signing with management a “collective performance agreement” in concern for the “sustainability of the company and for the protection of Reunion jobs”, according to a press release.

The carrier, which connects Reunion Island to mainland France and several destinations in the Indian Ocean including Mayotte, is a major local employer with more than 800 employees.

For two years, pilots will not receive 13e months and will have six fewer days of leave, the president of SNPL Air Austral, Vivien Rousseau, told AFP.

The threshold for triggering overtime has also been raised, “technically” depriving pilots of the possibility of earning overtime even though it usually represents a “large part” of their income, according to him.

For “save our jobs”, “we will work more to earn less”, summarized Mr. Rousseau.

The cost of employing 115 pilots by Air Austral, estimated at 60 million euros over two years, will thus be reduced by 5.3 million, he indicated.

According to the union’s calculations, the pilots will have lost “45% of their purchasing power from 2017 to 2026”.

Vivien Rousseau denounces the attitude of the majority shareholder “which conditioned its contribution of new money to a 10% reduction in the payroll”.

On March 7, shareholders approved a recovery plan providing for the injection of an additional 10 million euros into the capital and requesting “some efforts” to the staff.

Having emerged very heavily indebted from the COVID-19 crisis, Air Austral benefited from multiple public aid before being restructured at the start of 2023 with the provision of private capital, while the State abandoned 100 million euros of debt.

Air Austral is now 55% owned by the company RunAir, bringing together investors from Reunion, and 44% by Sematra, a mixed economy company (region, department, Caisse des Dépôts) formerly 99% owner of the company.

AFP/VNA/CVN

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