Television images showed airline human resources and labor relations chief Xavier Broseta being jostled, his shirt ripped off and his tie hanging from his neck, battling his way through crowds of workers as he sought to escape.
Broseta and Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey had been outlining a drastic cost cutting plan, described by the company as “Plan B” after failing to persuade its pilots to accept a less radical one.
Violent protests by workers are commonplace in France, where the population has a long tradition of taking the law into its own hands. This year, as the country struggles to come out of an economic downturn, has seen many.
Traffic disruption, damage to public property and injuries to police officers have gone hand-in-hand with a spate of demonstrations by farmers, taxi drivers, ferry workers and even tobacconists.
Air France CEO Gagey had already left the room before the works council meeting near Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris was interrupted after about an hour.