Air France has received the go-ahead from Transavia pilots, who are members of the SNPL France ALPA union, for an expansion plan that is part of the wider Air France-KLM Group’s bid to expand and boost profitability. 

The SNPL’s Transavia branch said Sept. 30 that all members had been asked Sept. 12 to vote on whether to approve Air France’s plans for low-cost Transavia, which envisage the removal of a previous cap agreed with labor representatives that limited the unit’s fleet to 40 aircraft. 

However, a fellow pilots union, the SPL told ATW Oct. 2 it plans to make a legal complaint, saying its members are not properly represented in discussions over Transavia’s future. 

The SPL had previously filed a strike notice for September and October after members of the Air France branch of the SNPL approved the Transavia development plans in July, saying at the time that Air France pilots had too much say in the future of Transavia. 

The SPL is largely made up of pilots who have flown for Transavia since it began operating: about 30% of the unit’s around 350 pilots.  

That strike notice has been lifted given the context of the wider air transport sector in France—where French leisure airline Aigle Azur is being liquidated and a court is set to decide imminently if low-cost, long-haul carrier XL Airways will also be liquidated—but the union plans to file a legal complaint over a lack of representation for its members, an SPL spokesman said. 

“We have been calling for development for Transavia for years—but in France there are laws, and they need to be respected,” he said. 

The SNPL vote was concluded Sept. 30 and 90.78% of those that took part voted in favor of approving the plans, with a participation rate of 82.82%. 

Around 18% of the "historic" Transavia pilots, as opposed to Air France pilots flying for Transavia, are SNPL members, a union spokesman said.

SNPL Transavia VP Cyril Cavanne said: “By approving this major agreement, Transavia France’s pilots are opening the doors wide to the development of their airline. In future it will be able to fully reinforce its position as a major player in the medium-haul segment for the Air France-KLM Group.” 

Separately Transavia announced it will open four new routes from Paris Orly in summer 2020, to Pula, Croatia; Riga, Latvia and Ancona and Bari, Italy.

Helen Massy-Beresford,