THE social conflict at the house of Air Antilles and Air Guyanetwo subsidiaries of the Express interregional airline (Cairo), will it end with a cease of payment even a judicial liquidation of the two airlines?
The striking pilots of these two Caribbean airlines have been demanding since July 14 the salary increases granted at the end of a previous conflict, last December, and which according to them have not been honored. Cairo’s CEO, Eric Koury, opposes these demands with the company’s indebtedness. He filed with the Pointe-à-Pitre commercial court a request for suspension of payment and judicial liquidation of the company which will be examined this Wednesday, August 2.
“We’re at a low point in our demands, we can’t go any lower“, explains to theAFP Brieuc Hardy, from the Syndicat National des Pilotes de Ligne (SNPL), who is demanding around 15% increase in remuneration which is “among the lowest on the market“. But such a request would beunbearable for the company“, retorts the CEO of Cairo, already in debt due to state aid received during the Covid pandemic.
Air Antilles, the larger of the two subsidiaries, is the only airline to serve the non-French Caribbean islands from Guadeloupe and Martinique. It is the bridgehead of the CaribSky alliance, financed by European funds. But this partnership has been faltering since another company, Liat, closed its doors in 2020 and Winair, CaribSky’s third player, also experienced difficulties after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fall of Air Antilles and Air Guyane would lead to the isolation of the islands of the region and would drastically increase ticket prices by reducing the number of players, including on the service of French territories, according to several political sources and economy of the region.
But for the overseas communities, which had nevertheless participated in the financial rescue of the airline Corsair in 2020, there is no question of bailing out Cairo: the president of the Guadeloupe region, Ary Chalus, has already announced that he should not “always think of communities (…) to inject moneyin a private company. He points out, however, that hestarted exchanges a few months ago with the Member States of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on the future of air transport at the regional level“.