Air France-KLM: Corp. Travel ‘Ramping Up’

Similar to what other air carriers have reported, the beginning of the first quarter for Air France-KLM was hampered by the effects from the Covid-19 omicron variant, particularly on short- and medium-haul routes, the company reported Thursday. The outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine resulted in higher fuel prices and a slowdown in bookings for a short period. But March proved “very encouragement,” according to the company.

In spite of the challenging context, … the Group posted once again a positive [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] and recorded strong bookings for the following quarters,” Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith said in a statement. “March was notably very encouraging with a significant increase in demand for corporate and premium traffic, complementing the already strong leisure and [visiting friends and relatives] demand across our worldwide network.”

Corporate travel demand was “ramping up” during the quarter to about 70 percent recovered compared with 2019 levels, according to a company presentation that also showed Air France-KLM’s long-haul and small and midsize enterprise segments performed strongly.

Air France-KLM reported first-quarter capacity of 75 percent of 2019 levels for the same period with yield above 2019 levels. March’s long-haul load factor was 80 percent for both the premium and economy-plus classes. The company also reported revenue of €4.5 billion ($4.7 billion), which is more than doubled from the prior year, and a net loss of €552 million ($580 million).

The company reported that total first-quarter passengers increased more than 200 percent year over year to just over 14.5 million. Capacity was up 67.8 percent year over year to just over 58,000 available seat kilometers.

Like Lufthansa, which also reported Q1 earnings Thursday, the company’s fuel charges accelerated significantly during the quarter, increasing 115 percent year over year to €996 million ($1.05 billion).

Air France-KLM’s capacity outlook is in the range of 80 percent to 85 percent for the second quarter and 85 percent to 90 percent for the third quarter, as compared with their respective periods in 2019.

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