EUR3.4 billion lifeline for KLM

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (AP) — The Dutch government announced yesterday that it will throw national carrier KLM a EUR3.4 billion (USD3.81 billion) lifeline to help the airline survive the aviation slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the support package is made up of a EUR1 billion loan and EUR2.4 billion in guarantees for bank loans.

There are strings attached to the bailout, with the government setting conditions including that KLM must cut costs by 15 per cent, improve the airline’s sustainability and reduce the number of night flights it carries out at the national airport, Schiphol, on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Hoekstra said that the cost-cutting order means that job losses at the carrier that employs some 30,000 people are “likely unavoidable”.

KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said the package was necessary to help KLM recover from the crisis that has kept some 90 per cent of its planes on the ground during the global pandemic.

File photo shows a KLM passenger plane approaching for landing at Lisbon airport. PHOTO: AP

Airlines around the world are forecast to lose USD84 billion this year, with revenue halved.

“This is a very important step and I express my gratitude on behalf of all KLM colleagues to the Dutch state and the banks for their confidence in our organisation and our future,” he said in a statement.

The deal includes appointing a “state agent” to oversee how the package is spent and ensure KLM sticks to the conditions.

KLM is in a partnership with French carrier Air France. The French government has pledged seven billion euros in loans and loan guarantees to the carrier.