(Yet another) New strategy for AF - "Plan A+"

Old Jan 11, 16, 2:57 am
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(Yet another) New strategy for AF - "Plan A+"

Plan A didn't go ahead, Plan B was divided in two (2016 savings already decided, 2017 were tbc) - now there is "Plan A+", which is the 2016 savings of Plan B but then some growth as well.

Article in the French press

The fact that the labelling is rather misleading - "A+" implies more growth than "A", where in fact it is rather "A-" or "B+" - is absolutely secondary in the grander context, isn't it?

Oh well...
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Old Jan 11, 16, 3:18 am
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Not secondary at all - very symptomatic of an airline which is just happy with any sh*tty plan as long as it makes it sound good. This is not an airline management business, it is a poetry competition.

Ultimately, the Unions have just managed to make AF wait for the global economic outlook and low oil prices to mechanically produce some growth, and now they can say "come on, we are going to make a profit so we do not need to change anything, in fact, you need to reward us more" and the ailrine will have not sorted any of its problems, and at the next economic downturn, it will find itself in even deeper mud than it currently is while its competitors will have an even bigger advantage than they currently have.

The only very relative silver lining is that there is nothing new here and we always new that they are a bunch of useless managers anyway.
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Old Jan 11, 16, 5:20 am
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Et les perspectives pour 2016 sont également très positives, avec une baisse du prix du carburant qui devrait jouer à plein
Talking about not waving the fuel surcharges maybe? This short-term decision might blow up in their face sooner than expected.
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Old Jan 11, 16, 5:48 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Not secondary at all - very symptomatic of an airline which is just happy with any sh*tty plan as long as it makes it sound good. This is not an airline management business, it is a poetry competition.
Funny you should say that, because when I wrote my post my initial sentence was "the fact that ... is secondary, but isn't it revealing?".

But then I deleted it and accused myself of only finding yet another confirmation for French companies (and politicians as well) to be strong on using great sounding announcements and catchy phrases without any real action behind it. Something they have in common with the US by the way. Form over function. Façade and wrapping over content.

The trouble is that in this competition of catchy phrases and short arguments instead of thinking arguments and consequences through to the end (because the unions are the same in their posturing) the real issues get glossed over.

I am afraid your prognostic about where the company will land in some years' time will be right.
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Old Jan 14, 16, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Not secondary at all - very symptomatic of an airline which is just happy with any sh*tty plan as long as it makes it sound good. This is not an airline management business, it is a poetry competition.

Ultimately, the Unions have just managed to make AF wait for the global economic outlook and low oil prices to mechanically produce some growth, and now they can say "come on, we are going to make a profit so we do not need to change anything, in fact, you need to reward us more" and the ailrine will have not sorted any of its problems, and at the next economic downturn, it will find itself in even deeper mud than it currently is while its competitors will have an even bigger advantage than they currently have.

The only very relative silver lining is that there is nothing new here and we always new that they are a bunch of useless managers anyway.
This humble poster has been sometimes surprised by some of your comments on AF management. But I now fully share your view (I know, I am slow). Announcing three totally different strategies in just a few months is ridiculous. AF management has lost any credibility for the future. AF unions are bad, but management is no better.
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Old Jan 14, 16, 12:54 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
This humble poster has been sometimes surprised by some of your comments on AF management. But I now fully share your view (I know, I am slow). Announcing three totally different strategies in just a few months is ridiculous. AF management has lost any credibility for the future. AF unions are bad, but management is no better.
I promise that I would have much preferred to end up being convinced that I was wrong, but indeed, I still do not think that they know what they are doing and actually question their willingness to take hard decisions to get out of the terribly difficult situation that the airline is structurally in at the moment. I realise that my comments towards the management often sound quite sharp, but their lack of credibility upsets me only because I genuinely care about this airline (by which I mean that I have some form of emotional attachment to it which goes beyond detached rationality).

I am still trying to figure out what the 'real' problem is. I'm not sure if it is something as deep as the French tradition of large (and public or amazingly "formerly public") company leadership which seems to consider that training to run a company or to work in the highest spheres of administration should be the same (it shouldn't). Or maybe the same game means that people at the top of AF are busier trying to find their next job in another company or as chief of staff for some minister or other and the airline they are supposed to lead really is the least of their worries. Or perhaps, it is that ultimately, the AF leadership are deeply convinced that "someone" will always be here to bail the airline out, as though it simply could not die. I really do not know. However, regardless of the reason, I can only finish by quoting and fully supporting your conclusion which summarises it all:

"AF management has lost any credibility for the future. AF unions are bad, but management is no better."
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Old Jan 14, 16, 1:10 pm
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+1, *2
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Old Jan 15, 16, 3:32 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
I promise that I would have much preferred to end up being convinced that I was wrong, but indeed, I still do not think that they know what they are doing and actually question their willingness to take hard decisions to get out of the terribly difficult situation that the airline is structurally in at the moment. I realise that my comments towards the management often sound quite sharp, but their lack of credibility upsets me only because I genuinely care about this airline (by which I mean that I have some form of emotional attachment to it which goes beyond detached rationality).

I am still trying to figure out what the 'real' problem is. I'm not sure if it is something as deep as the French tradition of large (and public or amazingly "formerly public") company leadership which seems to consider that training to run a company or to work in the highest spheres of administration should be the same (it shouldn't). Or maybe the same game means that people at the top of AF are busier trying to find their next job in another company or as chief of staff for some minister or other and the airline they are supposed to lead really is the least of their worries. Or perhaps, it is that ultimately, the AF leadership are deeply convinced that "someone" will always be here to bail the airline out, as though it simply could not die. I really do not know. However, regardless of the reason, I can only finish by quoting and fully supporting your conclusion which summarises it all:

"AF management has lost any credibility for the future. AF unions are bad, but management is no better."
Well, thinking back at the situation of AZ in Italy in the past several years, these both sound like very reasonable bets. Add to the mix a bunch of decision taken for political rather than economical reasons (such as keeping a base or a route open merely to appease some current minister), et voila'!
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Old Jan 15, 16, 7:47 am
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More details here http://www.lemonde.fr/entreprises/ar...9_1656994.html and in the related article.

So Gagey and the well-named Gateau say that there is no miracle solution but...

- There will be no compulsory redundancy for ground personnel till mid-2018, regardless of how many volunteers there are for negotiated departures;

- Not only no redundancy but some more people will be hired (who also can't be fired) in other work categories notably pilots;

- New routes will be opened and new long haul planes will join the fleet;

- New negotiations to pay pilots more based on performance (but their targets for improved productivity will be nearly halved) and involve them in an expanded Transavia;

- No more compulsory deadlines and no more "ultimatum" so with the new plan, in practice any effort/improved productivity becomes optional;

- The airline has suddenly found that there has been no excessive number of pilots "for a long time";

- The state would improve the social conditions of airline crew contracts, mirroring those of seafarers.

The whole thing is hilarious. Some giant pantomime and it now seems that management and unions have agreed that whatever happens, "demain, on rase gratis" and leave any mess to come to whoever the next guys are... Pathetic.
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Old Jan 15, 16, 7:49 am
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PS: If our friend San Gottardo and others agree as this was of course not my thread to start with, could I suggest renaming this thread: "Air France and the Pink Elephants"?
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Old Jan 20, 16, 6:23 am
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Well, not to mention the odd labelling choice of "A+", which is not just a "catchy phrase" as San Gottardo mentions above ... Many people (younger than I ) sign off text messages or emails with an "A+" meaning "à plus (tard)" or "see you later" ... rather ironic ...
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Old Jan 27, 16, 12:32 pm
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(Yet another) New strategy for AF - "Plan A+"

After all posters so far have agreed that the airline management is more or less out of their minds, I have read an article that makes me think that there is some real competition for who is actually more stupid http://www.latribune.fr/entreprises-finance/services/transport-logistique/air-france-l-intersyndicale-rejette-le-nouveau-plan-de-la-direction-545997.html

Most of us here found management to lenient with trade union demands, too generous and doing too little to improve performance. But it seems they were not, because the trade unions flat-out rejected the new plan. Instead, they issued a very long list of demands, including fleet growth, the introduction of the 787, and obviously guarantees that no jobs will be cut or outsourced. Obviously there is no mentioning of productivity increases. Or any thinking how to make the other part of the equation - finding enough passengers and cargo paying enough money for their trip - should be achieved.
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Old Jan 27, 16, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
After all posters so far have agreed that the airline management is more or less out of their minds, I have read an article that makes me think that there is some real competition for who is actually more stupid http://www.latribune.fr/entreprises-...on-545997.html

Most of us here found management to lenient with trade union demands, too generous and doing too little to improve performance. But it seems they were not, because the trade unions flat-out rejected the new plan. Instead, they issued a very long list of demands, including fleet growth, the introduction of the 787, and obviously guarantees that no jobs will be cut or outsourced. Obviously there is no mentioning of productivity increases. Or any thinking how to make the other part of the equation - finding enough passengers and cargo paying enough money for their trip - should be achieved.
For once, I tend to disagree with you.

Management announced several wildly different plans in a few months, including the last two which seem to be in two different warp zones. They have lost any credibility down to zilch. (Actually, I am using the most moderate words I can, despite the temptation to follow Orbitmic's lead).
If I were on the other side of the negotiating table, I would not try to play management games anymore. I would simply state my wishes and let management come around once more.
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Old Jan 27, 16, 5:06 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
For once, I tend to disagree with you.

Management announced several wildly different plans in a few months, including the last two which seem to be in two different warp zones. They have lost any credibility down to zilch. (Actually, I am using the most moderate words I can, despite the temptation to follow Orbitmic's lead).
If I were on the other side of the negotiating table, I would not try to play management games anymore. I would simply state my wishes and let management come around once more.
I tend to agree. I think that the unions are just being rational. Management have shown that they effectively attach no value to their own proposals and are willing to move away from them at Concorde speed, so the unions' best tactics is to do the exact contrary, not give away an inch and stick to their preferred solution in reasonably certain knowledge that management will probably accept the whole ultimatum just to save face with a pretend argument.

Unions are the carpet seller who has just asked €10,000 for the carpet.
Management is the carpet buyer who has already taken €10,000 out of their wallet and say "actually please, would you not consider going down to €9,000?

So the carpet seller is now fully aware that the carpet buyer will pay the full price anyway and is much better off explaining that it is really so very sorry but it is already losing looooads of money by consenting such a bargain price!
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Old Jan 27, 16, 6:20 pm
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
For once, I tend to disagree with you.

...
On what exactly?

EDIT, one day later after having re-read my original post: I think you have understood my post as saying that it's a stupid move by the unions to reject the Air France plan. I didn't say that, but it could be understood like this.

What I wanted to say is that there are several versions of stupidity at play here:
  • Management, because it's irresponsible to threaten further improvements of performance through the new Plan A+ and by taking away their own room for manoeuvring, whilst the company is still in a very bad financial and strategic state
  • Unions, for the kind of demands they are making, which just show how completely detached from the workings of the real world they are. They want job guarantees and job growth - but what do they have to say about actually filling those planes, about ensuring sufficient yield, about the existing cost disadvantage that AF has, about the strategic challenges
  • Management, for having expected that their new plan would be met with enthusiasm by the unions and go through without any opposition. Management should know from past experience that when offering a little finger the unions will ask for the whole hand, that unions' first reactions is always to assume and accuse that management is trying to destroy the company and that their plans are rubbish, etc.

As such I agree with you that the behaviour and tactics of the unions is rational - as stupid as the content of their demands may be - and that management should be criticized for not having anticipated that.

Last edited by San Gottardo; Jan 28, 16 at 3:14 am
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