Air France shares nosedive after CEO bails

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Air France expects to cancel one in five flights on Tuesday as staff carry out a fifteenth day of strikes over a pay dispute that has forced the resignation of parent company Air France-KLM's chief executive.

Jean-Marc Janaillac, who heads the Franco-Dutch airline group, said on Friday he would resign after losing a vote over pay that aimed to end a series of damaging strikes.

Air France-KLM's board will decide on a management transition plan on May 15.

The Finance Minister of France, Bruno Le Maire, said on Sunday that the government, which owns 14 percent of Air France, would not rescue the airline.

Air France-KLM shares fell more than 14 percent before recovering some losses to trade down 10 percent at 7.28 euros ($8.68) at 1230 GMT, their lowest level since April 2017.

Janaillac warned past year that volatile fuel prices and geopolitical risks could threaten the company's turnaround, but didn't appear to predict the heavy toll that the strikes would take.

Janaillac resigned on Friday after striking staff rejected a final pay offer of a 7 per cent wage increase over four years, as they continue to push for a 5.1 per cent increase this year.

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He added: "The challenge is the survival of Air France, the development of a company to which we are all attached".

Regardless of the strike, the carrier demanded that it is ready to keep up 99% of whole deal flights on Monday, 80% of medium-pull administrations and 87% of short-pull flights.

Air France-KLM posted a first quarter operating loss of €118 million ($141 million) last week, attributing €75 million of that loss to the strike impact.

The government of French president Emmanuel Macron is involved in its own ongoing battle with broad swaths of society which are resisting economic reforms.

But many analysts say Air France has lagged far behind in restructuring and has failed to address its continued losses.

Bloomberg reports that the airline group's stock has dropped as much as 14 percent as of Monday, the biggest decline since 2002.

"Air France will disappear if it does not make the necessary efforts to be competitive", he said on BFM television.

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