French Skyteam member Air France is expecting to formally sign an agreement with its pilots July 17, paving the way for the launch of its Boost new airline project in fall 2017.

Boost, which is a project name for Air France’s new lower-cost airline subsidiary, was first revealed in November 2016 as part of Air France-KLM’s Trust Together strategy.

The Paris Charles de Gaulle-based airline is aimed at countering Gulf carrier competition, so that Air France can return to routes that are unsustainable under its current airline model.

However, the future of the project has hinged on Air France securing buy-in from its labor groups, particularly pilots represented by the SNPL union.

Following a consultative ballot, which ran June 20-July 17, Air France said SNPL’s members had given a “massive vote in favor” of the Boost agreement.

“The majority of pilots took part in this consultation and over 78% supported the agreement opened for signature by Air France management. This result paves the way for the creation of the new airline, the ‘Boost’ project, in the autumn of this year, in line with the schedule originally announced. This agreement will be effective as soon as it is signed, in the next few hours,” Air France said July 17.

The airline added that the pilot backing builds on a recent cabin crew agreement, with both playing an important role in the group’s recovery.

“I welcome the spirit of responsibility shown by the Air France pilots. This agreement is the result of lengthy negotiations, which have resulted in a balanced compromise in favor of the interests of the company and all its employees. This milestone is part of Trust Together’s growth and recovery trajectory, driven in particular by the project for the new airline,” Air France-KLM chairman and CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac said.

Victoria Moores