Air France-KLM more than doubles profits in 2018 despite strikes

PARIS (AFP) – Air France-KLM, which was badly hit last year by strikes and management upheaval, reported yesterday that its annual net profits rose by 150 per cent to 409 million euros (USD463 million).

“The strong performance of our front-line teams and continued cost control helped partly offset the impact of strikes at Air France in the first half of the year, as well as significant fuel headwinds,” Benjamin Smith, the company’s new Chief Executive, said in a statement.

The Canadian businessman took over in September following Jean-Marc Janaillac’s sudden exit in a bitter dispute over salaries in the group’s French wing.

Fifteen days of strike cost the company 335 million euros, Air France said.

On Tuesday, Air France pilots voted by 85 per cent in favour of a new pay deal, concluding a series of long employee-management negotiations.

Revenue growth last year was up in all business segments, with operating earnings coming in at 1.3 billion euros, the Franco-Dutch airline group reported.

The group said it had carried more than 100 million passengers last year, making it the leading European airline for long-haul traffic.

Transavia, a low-coast subsidiary, carried 15.8 million passengers last year, an increase of 7.1 per cent on 2017.

Full year 2018 capacity increased by 2.1 per cent, mainly driven by the South American, North Atlantic and Asian networks, with growth of 8.6 per cent, 3.0 per cent and 2.1 per cent, Air France-KLM said.

In 2019, the group will concentrate on “operational efficiency”, Financial Director Frederic Gagey told reporters.

“We can make a lot more money compared to last year,” he said, adding that Air France-KLM would also be looking to renewing its fleet to replace some of its more fuel-guzzling planes.