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World Cup in chaos amid strike by Air France pilots

SHARE World Cup in chaos amid strike by Air France pilots

Pilots for Air France, official carrier for the World Cup, stayed off the job for a second day Tuesday, causing chaos for more than 100,000 passengers and worries for fans and teams attending the monthlong soccer championship.

The state carrier's main pilots' union called the 15-day job action to protest $83 million in annual pay cuts. Most of the carrier's 3,200 Air France pilots did not work Monday.Officials from Air France sat down with union representatives this afternoon at Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris for the first talks in five days. There was no word on what was discussed.

In an interview published Tuesday in the Le Parisien newspaper, Air France president Jean-Cyril Spinetta asked the pilots to return to work and suggested postponing talks until after the World Cup ends July 12.

He said the company would lose $16.7 million a day during the strike.

But Spinetta gave no hint that Air France, which almost went bankrupt in 1993, was ready to withdraw its controversial plan to cut pilots' salaries in exchange for shares in Air France. Pilots - who make about $120,000 a year - also want Air France to do away with salary cuts for starting pilots.

Air France pilots make 20 percent to 30 percent more than their counterparts at other European Union nations.

Former French player Michel Platini, co-president of the World Cup organizing committee, accused the pilots Tuesday of "taking the country hostage."