Air France managers and unions meet again to discuss the carrier's plans to reorganise the company, two weeks after a violent protest broke up the previous meeting. David Pollard reports.
The strong arm of the French law. On hand, no doubt, to help avoid scenes likes these. Two weeks ago, the last meeting between Air France management and workers ended in violence - and embarrassment for its biggest shareholder, the French government. This time, there's a desire to talk. Union boss Ronald Noirot. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD SECRETARY OF AIR FRANCE UNION CFE-CGC, RONALD NOIROT, SAYING: "There's a lot of pressure on both sides. I think we all need to find the strength to sit round the table and rediscover some good sentiment regarding the interests of Air France employees." What remained to be seen: whether Air France would use its own strong arm tactics after all. Reports last weekend suggested the carrier was backing away from sweeping job cuts. Less than a thousand to go, according to chief exec Alexandre de Juniac - rather than the 2,900 figure that sparked the unrest. But today, union sources said there had been no confirmation of the new number. BGC Partners Mike Ingram says the airline shouldn't soften its stance, in any case. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET STRATEGIST, BGC PARTNERS, SAYING: "They either evolve or die. And every time Air France fails to reform, they lose market share to the likes or Ryanair and Easyjet, and the viability of their business, under any circumstances, becomes that much less certain." As well as being squeezed by low-cost competition, Air France has higher costs than some of its rivals. Even so, de Juniac has said it is on course to a profit this year - though declined to predict how much.