As part of its efforts to move up market, Air France unveiled its new Economy and Premium Economy cabins on 24-Sep-2013. The first flight with the new cabins will take place in summer 2014. In other divisions outside passenger and cargo Air France will continue to grow in engineering and maintenance, which are profitable. Union cooperation will be crucial Although much of Air France-KLMs Transform programme has been achieved with union cooperation, this can never be taken for granted. Les Echos (4-Oct-2013) reported that the biggest ground staff union, CGT, denounced what it called a closure in disguise of the regional bases. Several unions have appealed to the government to support the carriers recovery. The governments minority shareholding and EU laws on state aid prevent it from playing any meaningful role in subsidising Air France, but this attitude among unions illustrates an inability among some sections of the workforce to face the airlines problems. Air France medium-haul fleet will still be much larger than Transavia France As noted above, the planned headcount reductions do not appear radical by comparison with other European airlines restructuring programmes over the past decade. With losses in the passenger division greater than those in the cargo division, the other key issue is the relative development of high-cost Air France and LCC subsidiary Transavia France in medium-haul. Our initial conclusion is that the planned growth of Transavia France at the expense of Air France does not look aggressive enough. Air France has not announced details of its plans for the development of its medium-haul fleet overall. The French media reports mentioned above suggest a fleet reduction of five aircraft in the three most affected French regional bases over the coming year.
France takes aim at Amazon to protect local bookshops
(Thomas Samson / AFP/Getty Images / October 7, 2013) Also By Kim Willsher October 7, 2013, 11:48 a.m. PARIS — French investigators have dropped criminal charges against former President Nicolas Sarkozy for allegedly soliciting illegal campaign funds from the country’s richest woman. The inquiry found insufficient evidence that Sarkozy had sought and accepted campaign money in 2007 from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt , 90, while she was in a frail mental state. Sarkozy won the 2007 presidential election . The unexpected decision on Monday, just two weeks after a court ruled the investigation could proceed, clears the way for Sarkozy, who had vehemently denied the accusations, to run for reelection in 2017. However, the charges — termed an abuse of weakness –were maintained against Eric Woerth, a former government minister who was Sarkozy’s treasurer in the 2007 campaign; Bettencourt’s former companion, the society photographer Francois-Marie Banier; her lawyer, Pascal Wilhelm; her financial advisor, Patrice de Maistre and six others. Their trial is expected to be held next year. The public prosecutor in Bordeaux, where the investigation is being conducted, had said the case against Sarkozy stood no chance of success, and threatened to appeal any decision to send the former president to trial, delaying the investigation against the other accused. The former president is still dogged by a number of other legal cases, including a scandal over millions of euros in public money paid in compensation to a controversial businessman and friend, Bernard Tapie. Sarkozy is also facing questions about the “Karachi Affair,” a complicated corruption case linked to arms sales and a bombing in Pakistan in 2002 that killed 11 French nationals. Before the May 2012 election campaign, Sarkozy had said that if he lost his bid for reelection, France would never hear of me again. He has maintained a reasonably low profile since his defeat by Socialist Francois Hollande , but he and his entourage have begun hinting of his return to the front line of French politics to save the country. Several members of the right-of-center opposition Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, are said to be interested in running in 2017, but Sarkozy has emerged as the popular candidate to challenge Hollande. Last month, an opinion poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion found that 62% of UMP voters questioned wanted him to run in 2017, well ahead of any rivals in the party. During a visit to the Haute-Savoie region four weeks ago, Sarkozy dined with local UMP lawmakers. I can’t be bothered with small political news, he told journalists afterward.
Bank of France trims third-quarter growth forecast
The law is part of France’s broader regulation of book prices and curbs on discounting, which was passed in 1981 by the Socialist government at the time to protect small bookshops from supermarket chains. In the past decade, online outlets have challenged physical bookstores, prompting French publishers to lobby for a change in the law to stop what they call Amazon’s “dumping” and “unfair competition”. According to a French parliamentary report, online book sales rose to 13.1 percent of total book sales in 2011 from 3.2 percent in 2003. The country is still home to more bookstores than most countries with 2,000-2,500 in a country of 65 million people, compared with 1,000 in Britain, which has roughly the same-sized population. “The (book pricing) law is part of our cultural heritage,” said conservative lawmaker Christian Kert who sponsored the bill. France’s lower chamber, with the support of the Socialist government, passed the law unanimously. It will now go to the Senate, which is expected to pass it by the end of the year. For its part, Amazon said the law would have the perverse effect of hurting sales of books from the back catalogue and from smaller publishing houses, which were often bought online. “All measures that aim to raise the price of books sold online will curb the ability of French people to buy cultural works and discriminates against those who buy online,” it said. The proposed law is only the latest example of France taking aim at U.S.-based Internet giants. Last week the country’s data protection watchdog moved closer to fining Google for the way it stores and tracks user information after the search engine ignored a three-month ultimatum to bring its practices in line with local law. France has called on the European Union to regulate global Internet companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook more aggressively, to counter their growing dominance of online commerce and services. It is pushing within the OECD and G20 organizations to tighten tax rules to make sure that Internet companies cannot avoid tax by locating their headquarters in low-cost EU countries. Amazon and Google are subject of ongoing tax audits in France.
Charges dropped against France’s Nicolas Sarkozy in campaign scandal
8, 2013, 4:16 a.m. EDT Bank of France trims third-quarter growth forecast Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist? Just add items to create a watchlist now: Add or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In By William Horobin PARIS–The Bank of France Tuesday trimmed its growth forecast for the third quarter of this year after business sentiment indicators remained unchanged in September from August. French gross domestic product will rise 0.1% in the third quarter from the second, the Bank of France said, according to its monthly index of business activity. Last month, the central bank had forecast a 0.2% expansion in GDP. The revision brings the Bank of France’s third-quarter growth forecast closer to that of the country’s official statistics agency. Insee said last week the economy will stagnate in the third quarter after strong 0.5% quarter-on-quarter growth in the second three months of the year. But Insee also expects a stronger fourth quarter and revised its full-year growth forecast up to 0.2%, having previously forecast a 0.1% contraction. The Bank of France didn’t provide a fourth-quarter growth forecast, but said business leaders in services and manufacturing expect activity levels to improve in October. The Bank of France’s business sentiment indicator in manufacturing was unchanged in September from August at 97, slightly below the long-term average of 100. The indicator for services was also unchanged at 93.