Air France (AF, Paris CDG) has confirmed plans for a voluntary redundancy scheme for ground staff at French airports, putting the number at 465 job losses to be carried out over a one-year period. It will also reduce short-haul capacity in terms of available seat kilometres (ASK) by 15% by 2021, it said in a statement.

However, no forced departures are on the agenda and CEO Anne Rigail claimed in the statement that “many new talented staff – pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and engineers – will join us in 2019.”

The decision is part of a strategy to improve operational performance and restore Air France's competitiveness, the statement said, as it faces a growing threat throughout the country from high-speed rail and LCCs.

"On routes where high-speed trains connect Paris to the provinces in under two hours, Air France has lost 90% of its market share," it said.

Low-cost airlines, meanwhile, "have set up bases at major airports and have gained ground rapidly with aggressive pricing policies and often with the help of public authorities".

Combating these challenges, Air France teams have "enabled us to maintain a 65% market share in the domestic market", the statement continued. But on some routes, revenue decline could not be avoided nor unit costs reduced. As a result, the airline's cumulative losses from 2013 to 2018 have amounted to EUR717 million euros (USD806 million).

One of the first victims of the route cuts will be a link between Paris Orly and Quimper in Brittany, operated by Air France commuter subsidiary HOP! (A5, Paris Orly), according to the France Bleu radio network. France Bleu added that the route, to be shut down in 3Q19, had been criticised in past seasons for multiple cancellations.