Air France unions undoubtedly realize the damage they are doing to their company, which declared the cost of their strikes through mid-April was €220 million ($272 million). But do they understand how much they are jeopardizing their own futures?

Air France pilots, cabin crews and ground staff have staged nine days of strikes since February and scheduled two more for late April. They are also threatening more strikes in May.

Union leaders are demanding more than 5% pay increases across the board. Air France has increased its offer from 1% to 2% in 2018, with more increases through the following years provided the company is profitable.  So the gap remains wide. But if, as looks likely, the strikes continue at a cost to the airline of some €25 million each day, the ability for Air France to provide any pay increases will shrink dramatically. Indeed, the viability of the company and the security of everyone’s jobs will be in question.

It is right and proper to expect fair compensation for a job performed.  Air France employees have given greater productivity while maintaining operational quality as part of the company’s ongoing restructuring to lower costs. Management’s pay offer, meanwhile, is both fair and responsible. It assures that all employees would receive annual pay increases over the next four years, albeit tied to profit targets.

But union leaders, by pushing for what is unaffordable and adding lions of euros of cost in lost revenue and operational disruption expense, are recklessly playing with the futures of those they represent.

They are also willfully ignoring the modern marketplace, which is domi-nated by the LCCs whose profitability, networks and customer base will con-tinue to grow only faster for as long as the legacy carriers do not adapt their business models and, more critically, reduce and control their costs.

It’s more than just money. Every single day that Air France’s operations are severely disrupted by strike action, some of its customers find alternatives. That may be a legacy rival, an LCC or even a train. And if they then discover they enjoyed that option—and it got them to their destination when Air France failed them—there’s the strong chance that they will try other travel options again. The longer these strikes continue, the more customers—long time or new—will weigh whether they want to buy a ticket with an airline that may or may not fly the day they set off to the airport.

In other words, the unions are not just messing with Air France’s prof-itability. They are endangering its image and trustworthiness. They are encouraging even Air France’s most loyal customers to try its competitors.

In truly dire circumstance, strikes can be the very last recourse. But that is not the situation here, and labor dis-putes should never threaten the very heart of a company’s viability and the future of its workforce.