General Industry

Air France KLM December Passenger Numbers Rise, But Protests Hit Revenues

By Dave Simpson
Air France KLM December Passenger Numbers Rise, But Protests Hit Revenues

Air France KLM has said that anti-government protests in France impacted its revenue, taking the shine off a rise in its overall December passenger traffic figures.

Analysts said the latest passenger data showed that the Dutch KLM airline was again doing better than Air France, with KLM and the smaller Transavia division flying fuller planes.

"The rise in passenger numbers was essentially led by KLM and Transavia, whereas the performance at Air France was more flat," Gregoire Laverne of Roche Brune Asset Management, which does not hold shares in the airline, said.

Air France KLM said the "yellow vest" protests, which have been marred by violence and disrupted shopping areas and the transport network, were estimated to have had a negative revenue impact of around €15 million.

A spokeswoman for Air France KLM said it had arrived at the estimate by taking into account last minute cancellations of bookings that had occurred as a result of the protests, which started in mid-November but intensified and grew more violent over the course of December.


Passenger Numbers And New Chief Executive

The airline said in a statement that it carried around 7.7 million passengers in December, up 3.6% from a year earlier, while for the whole of 2018 it flew around 101 million passengers, 2.8% higher than the previous year.

Air France KLM hired Benjamin Smith as its new group chief executive in August, after devastating strikes led to his predecessor's resignation. Smith has said Air France must narrow the profitability gap with its more efficient KLM stable mate.

Analysts at Credit Suisse kept a "neutral" rating on Air France KLM, highlighting the pressures of the French protests.

"We see a key driver of the differential between Air France and KLM load factors as the 'gilets jaunes' protests in France, which have cost €15 million, or around 0.3% of unit revenue in the quarter," Credit Suisse said in a research note.

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