Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Crisis Air France May Surrender Air Freight Division

Continuing Sea of Troubles for Flag Carrier
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – The woes for Air France continue to pile up relentlessly as today’s anniversary of the disappearance of Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris sees the carrier’s safety record called into question, this after last weeks figures revealed operating losses of almost €1.3 billion and rumours that today the airline will close down its air freight division and only move cargo on passenger flights where and when space is available.

The air freight unit has lost over €650 million in two years with less and less cargo being carried and only five aircraft dedicated to shipping freight exclusively. Air France executives have admitted the past twelve months have been the groups ‘annus horribilis’ with the loss of 228 souls when their Airbus A330-200 disappeared into Brazilian seas still causing calls for investigations from grieving relatives (the aircraft’s black boxes have never been recovered), volcanic ash depressing sales, crew working less hours than competitors and misjudgement over fuel prices (today’s Ryan Air profits are largely based on good fuel costs).

After a similar situation in 1993 when Air France reported catastrophic figures the French Government were obliged to initiate a bail out, but since privatisation five years ago and the link with KLM, the company will not expect such a reprieve. Cuts and productivity improvements will be essential to improve the position of one of the world’s largest airlines and it is likely the air freight division will now be sacrificed with a resulting loss of jobs.

Photo:- Airbus A330-200