Dutch minister says survival of Air France-KLM ‘not a given’

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The survival of the Air France-KLM group is not guaranteed if the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra warned.

France and the Netherlands, each with a 14 per cent share of the group, have poured out billions of euros in aid to help national carriers that virtually came to a standstill in the first half of 2020.

“It’s not a given,” Hoekstra said in an interview with Dutch public television NPO, stressing the need to cut costs.

In the spring, Paris gave Air France EUR7 billion in loans, and The Hague granted KLM similar aid worth EUR3.4 billion.

The bailout for KLM must be accompanied by “a comprehensive restructuring plan” as well as commitments to reestablish performance and competitiveness. Hoekstra said he had insisted in talks with KLM on the importance of changing direction.Dutch press agency ANP said KLM has to develop a restructuring plan by October 1.

Air France-KLM suffered a loss of EUR2.6 billion in the second quarter as air traffic virtually shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.