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Air France Ready To Hire New Staff

French carrier says that it will boost employment prior to holiday season...

Air France, France's flagship airline, will resume hiring ahead of an expected increase in traffic this summer, ending a freeze put in place after the September 11th terror attacks in the US.

The number of new employees will depend on how much demand recovers, said an Air France spokesman who asked that his name not be published. The Paris based Air France, which is Europe's third biggest carrier, has about 56,000 employees.

Air France's announcement comes as signs of an economic rebound emerge in France. The Labor Ministry reported that the number of unemployed fell by 4,000 in February, the first monthly decline since June 2001.

Air France and Spain's Iberia were the only major European airlines to avoid losing passengers in February, as traffic for the eight biggest European carriers fell by three percent. Air France said this month that its passenger count rose by two percent during the month.