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Minister says the fate of Air France is 'at stake'

President of the pilots's union SNPL, Jean-Louis Barber Image copyright AFP
Image caption Air France pilots are protesting over the carrier's expansion of its low-cost business

The fate of Air France is "at stake" in a dispute between the airline and its pilots, according to France's Transport Minister.

Pilots are protesting over the firm's plan to develop its budget carrier, Transavia, where pilots are paid less.

Speaking on French radio, Alain Vidalies said the company must expand its low cost business. "I think pilots are fully aware of this," he said.

The pilots' strike will enter its second week on Monday.

It is due to run until Friday, but the SNPL pilots' union has warned it could be extended further if talks fail.

'Obligatory move'

"There must be a positive approach in this situation, otherwise I think that it's the fate of the company that could be at stake," Mr Vidalies told France Info radio.

"The low cost [sector] is not a choice, it's an obligatory move, that's reality. I think pilots are fully aware of this," he said.

The airline estimates the strike, which started last Monday, is costing up to 15m euros (£12m) a day.

On Monday Air France expects to operate 41% of its flights.

The union has called on the French government to intervene and help resolve the dispute.

"Talks have reached a complete impasse," the SNPL said in a statement.

"Management is playing for time, waiting for the movement to weaken."

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