Air France-KLM plans sales and efficiency drive to lift profit

Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Smith poses during a photo session in Paris on November 4, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2019

Air France-KLM plans sales and efficiency drive to lift profit

  • The group also pledged to drive costs lower by speeding up the renewal of its fleet and being more flexible in managing the combined Air France-KLM fleet of more than 500 aircraft

PARIS: Air France-KLM will combine a sales drive with efficiencies including better fleet management to lift profit margins to 7-8 percent over the medium term, the airline group’s CEO Ben Smith told investors on Tuesday.
“The Air France-KLM group has all the assets to regain its leadership position,” Smith said in a company statement ahead of his first major strategy presentation since joining from Air Canada last year.
After a wave of 2018 strikes that grounded flights and cost €335 million ($373 million), the Franco-Dutch group has stabilized under Smith’s leadership thanks to union deals that have pushed up wage costs but increased operating flexibility.
Air France’s operating margin came in at 4.8 percent for the first 9 months of 2019, a 1.7 point decline from the same period a year earlier.
Under his new five-year plan, Smith vowed to lift profitability and restore dividends by “simplifying our fleet, clarifying our brand and market positioning and unlocking significant commercial and operational flexibility” thanks to labor deals. Air France-KLM has not paid a dividend since 2008.
The group also pledged to drive costs lower by speeding up the renewal of its fleet and being more flexible in managing the combined Air France-KLM fleet of more than 500 aircraft.
Air France-KLM took a €100 million charge last quarter to retire its Airbus A380 superjumbos early and replace them with more fuel-efficient planes.
Smith also overcame Dutch objections earlier this year to push through an integration plan combining management of the Air France and KLM aircraft fleets, which were still being handled separately 15 years after the airlines merged.
Air France-KLM shares were down 1.1 percent at €10.45. The stock has risen 11.5 percent so far this year, partly in anticipation of Smith’s mid-term performance plan.
To boost sales, the group said it aimed to sharpen the focus of its three main airline brands.


Trump calls for World Bank to stop lending to China

Updated 07 December 2019

Trump calls for World Bank to stop lending to China

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday called for the World Bank to stop giving loans to China, one day after the institution adopted a lending plan to Beijing over Washington’s objections.
The World Bank on Thursday adopted a plan to aid China with $1 billion to $1.5 billion in low-interest loans annually through June 2025. The plan calls for lending to “gradually decline” from the previous five-year average of $1.8 billion.
“Why is the World Bank loaning money to China? Can this be possible? China has plenty of money, and if they don’t, they create it. STOP!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Spokespeople for the White House and the World Bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The World Bank loaned China $1.3 billion in the fiscal 2019 year, which ended on June 30, a decrease from around $2.4 billion in fiscal 2017.
But the fall in the World Bank’s loans to China is not swift enough for the Trump administration, which has argued that Beijing is too wealthy for international aid.