The French government has called for an end to the Air France pilots strike, now in its third day, as the dispute over cost cuts threatened 60 percent of the airline's flights. (Rough Cut only - no reporter narration)
(ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION) The French government called for an end to the Air France pilots strike, now in its third day, as the dispute over cost cuts threatened 60 percent of the airline's flights on Wednesday. Budget Minister Emmanuel Macron called for a swift resolution, telling Europe 1 radio that "we cannot accept that a country gets blocked because of just a few". The comments by Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Macron came a day after the government won a confidence vote in parliament by a thin margin, with Valls telling deputies that France needed pro-business reforms but without compromising the country's social model. The pilots are carrying out a week-long strike over the airline's plans to expand the low-cost operations of its Transavia brand by setting up foreign bases as it seeks to fight back against fierce competition from budget carriers. Air France is trying to boost its earnings by expanding Transavia but says that in doing so it is not trying to replace Air France. The SNPL national pilots' union has said its members are worried the company will abandon Transavia's development in France and focus on its expansion elsewhere in Europe, moving jobs outside the country. The head of Air France has estimated that the strike will cost the company 10 million to 15 million euros ($13-$19.4 million) per day. Shares in parent company Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) were up 1.6 percent in early trade on Wednesday after falling 6.5 percent over the last two days.