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Air France tells striking unions to talk after doubling pay rise offer

An Air France Airbus A319 takes off at the Orly Airport near Paris as Air France pilots, cabin and ground crews unions call for a strike over salaries, France, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - The head of Air France KLM (AIRF.PA) on Wednesday denounced trade unions' demands for a 6 percent pay increase as unrealistic, as the airline braced for the start of a seventh day of strikes that have hurt its financial performance.

Late on Tuesday, Air France doubled the 1 percent immediate pay increase previously offered to unions and proposed talks on a deal for the 2019-21 period, in response to union demands for a 6 percent wage hike.

"The offer made by the management of Air France is both strong and reasonable," Air France KLM's chairman and chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday.

"It would be irresponsible if the trade unions did not enter into talks, now that the management has held out its hand to them," said Janaillac, who also reiterated that the unions' demands for a 6 percent rise were "unrealistic."

The strikes have so far cost Air France 170 million euros (£148.1 million), and have contributed to travel disruption in France since they have coincided with railway strikes, held in protest against plans to reform the SNCF state rail firm.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Richard Lough)