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Smith to Forge New
Air France-KLM — February 2019

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Air France-KLM was the pioneer of the consolidation game in Europe. In the first four years after the 2004 merger between Air France and KLM it made significant progress in showing its rivals how to benefit from a merger of national flag branded airlines. But since the peak of the last cycle and the global financial crisis, the group has lagged its rivals, brought down by excessively weak financial performance at Air France. The group now has a new CEO — remarkably an aviation professional, non-French and non-Establishment — given the task of returning the group to its former glory. Can he do it?

2018 was a bit of a troubled year for Air France-KLM. Revenues on a like-for-like basis were up by 2.5% year-on-year to €26.5bn on the back of a 2.4% increase in capacity and 1.5% growth in currency-adjusted unit revenues. Total passenger numbers increased by a modest 1.1% to 101.4m. Costs were impacted by a 10% increase in fuel costs to grow by 5% and operating profits fell by 30% to €1.3bn down from a restated €1.9bn (the Group adopted IFRS16 at the beginning of the year — see Aviation Strategy, April 2016 "No accounting for leases").


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