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Page 3 Profile: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, singer

Another day, another faux pas?

You’re never going to see Carla tilling the soil on the peasant farms of rural France, but sometimes you wonder whether it might do the wife of the former president a bit of good to appear a bit more down-to-earth. The French are up in arms over the fact their national airline treated her to a return flight to New York worth €11,000 for free, even covering her €500 airport taxes. Air France’s chief executive, Alexandre De Juniac, is a former aide to her husband Nicolas.

Is this all that bad?

Sadly it is. Air France is shedding jobs as part of a drive to save €2bn. So while Carla is enjoying her liberté she’s seemingly flung egalité and fraternité out of the window – a very high window.

The unions must be furious.

France’s strike-happy union-masters make Bob Crow look like a field mouse – they’re apoplectic. Union spokesman Léon Crémieux said: “To use the company for one’s friends, or friends of friends, is dishonest, particularly at a time when the workers are being asked to take a hit.”

Has Air France waved the white flag of surrender?

Non! They’ve opted for the Gallic shrug. Former Presidents and their families are, “in accordance with tradition”, allowed to “take advantage of transport facilities in the highest reservation category”.

Any other privileges we should know about?

Ms Bruni-Sarkozy earned almost £5m per year at the height of her modelling career and remains a successful musician, but her husband still enjoys a raft of ex-presidential benefits. Former heads of state get apartments, substantial social security payments, a personal driver, bodyguards and maids. These privileges are thought to deprive the French taxpayer of between €1.5-2m per year per ex-president.

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