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Strike-hit Air France loses €269 million in 1st quarter
Shares in Air France slumped 7.51 percent on Friday after the company announced a 269 million-euro loss in the first quarter of 2018. On the 13th day of staggered pay strikes, the troubled flag-carrier was to announce the result of an employee ballot on its pay offer in the evening.
Air France-KLM's share value fell to 7.71 euros after the first-quarter results were announced on Friday.
Although passenger traffic went up 5.2 percent, three days of strikes in February and March pushed up costs.
The company estimates that the strikes, which have continued in April and May, have cost it at least three million euros so far.
But it says that support for the strike is declining, allowing it to operate 75 percent of flights on Friday.
Boss organises employees' ballot
Chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac has tried to undercut the unions by organising an internet vote of all employees, whose result was to be announced at 6.00pm on Friday.
Janaillac has said he will resign if the company's offer of seven percent over four years is rejected, earning praise from Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who warned "everyone to fasten their seatbelts" in the event of a No vote.
The unions want a 5.1 percent rise in two stages this year, after a six-year wage freeze which has been part of Air France's efforts to return to profit.
The partly state-owned company earned 1.9 billion euros last year - 555 million euros from Air France and 910 million euros from KLM - but says it faces stiff competition from airlines in the Gulf and low-cost operators in Europe.
Janaillac's departure would deepen the crisis, leaving unions with nobody to negotiate with.
But a Yes vote might not resolve the situation, since French law requires that unions representing a majority of personnel must sign an agreement.
New link to Brazil
Air France launched its own low-cost airline, Joon, in 2017 and started flying to the north-eastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza on Friday.
Janaillac was unable to go to the inauguration because of the strike.