Sunday, October 24, 2021

Air France-KLM Eyes Capital Options, US Bookings Surge

Paris-Air France-KLM is looking to raise fresh funds soon after issuing a share earlier this year, bolstered by a positive trend in bookings as the United States announced reopening to Europeans Its chief executive said on Wednesday.

“We requested the flexibility of our shareholders at our annual general meeting in May to see how we can recapitalize the group,” CEO Ben Smith told reporters.

“We are studying right now what are some of the options, what are some of the instruments that might be able to do that. We are looking forward to another recapitalization in the coming months,” he said at an aircraft delivery ceremony .

Asked if he had seen any fundraising events before the end of the year, he said: “I can’t give you full confirmation; we want to make sure we do that as soon as possible.”

In April, Smith said Air France-KLM could raise more capital to strengthen its balance sheet and reduce debt as travel begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talk of a recovery intensified earlier this month when the United States said it would reopen to travelers from 33 countries, including most of Europe, who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Asked on Wednesday the extent to which this prompted an immediate increase in transatlantic bookings, Smith said: “A lot”.

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The North Atlantic is the most lucrative market for Europe’s biggest long-distance carriers, but business travel, which makes up the lion’s share of profits, has been hit hard by the crisis.

Air France-KLM expects an increase in demand from large corporate clients and others eager to travel to renew business contacts with customers. But it is too early to say how far this will result in sustained improvement, Smith said.

He said Air France-KLM was less exposed to corporate travel trends than rivals British Airways and Lufthansa because half of its premium cabins were already filled with people traveling for leisure before the pandemic.

Paris is seen as a major destination for wealthy tourists.

The head of the group’s French network, Anne Rigel, said earlier on Wednesday that Air France was beginning to see some improvement in business travel on domestic routes.

“We are seeing some signs especially on domestic routes, with some conferences happening especially in the south of France, but we are still far from 2019 levels at this stage,” Rigel told reporters on A220 delivery said.

by Tim Heffer

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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