Air France contains downturn

29 November 2001

BANGKOK - Air France has emerged relatively unscathed from the events of September 11.

The airline said it contained the impact of a September traffic plunge by retiring aircraft, cutting costs and limiting cash outflows, especially in terms of investments.

Air France chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta, said: "The tragic events of September 11 marked a sharp, unprecedented break with the past for the entire airline industry.

"Until September 10, Air France had been on target with its business plan in terms of both activity and results. It had even posted the sector's best results in the first quarter. "Today the industry is facing what is likely to be a prolonged crisis," he said.

Despite a promising start, September traffic for AF plunged after the terrorist attacks.

At the close of the first half of fiscal 2001-02, traffic had increased by 5.2 percent for a 7.3 percent increase in capacity. The load factor slipped 1.5 points down to 79.1 percent, still one of the highest in Europe.

October saw the fall-off in traffic stabilize at minus 10 percent and in the first few days of November an improvement was noted, with traffic 8 percent down from the same year-earlier period.

Asia/Pacific routes achieved positive growth though revenue out of Asian markets went down by 2.8 percent.

Revenue from Asian routes grew 2.5 percent. Traffic increased 3.4 percent while keeping load factor at 82.2 percent, a slight dip from the same period last year.

"For Asia/Pacific, there is no doubt that we were affected by the slowdown in the US economy and even more impacted after September 11.

Still, some markets are less impacted than the others and some routes were able produce strong growth such as China, Hong Kong, and Korea," said Air France Asia/Pacific executive vice president and managing director Marie-Joseph Male.

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