Photo: The Canadian press
DOSSIER – In this archive photo dated Friday May 17, 2019, Air France planes are parked on the tarmac at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, in Roissy, near Paris, Friday May 17, 2019. The French government Friday, April 24, 2020, announced a “historic” aid plan of 7 billion euros (7.6 billion US dollars) to save Air France, whose planes were largely anchored by virus closures in the whole world. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena, FILE)
French and Dutch governments announced Friday at least 9 billion euros ($ 9.7 billion) in bailout to save Air France and KLM, which are struggling for survival, as most of their planes are immobilized by blocked viruses in the whole world.
Partner airlines have been negotiating for weeks with their respective governments because carriers around the world are collapsing or demanding government bailouts. The latest weeks of travel restrictions have turned the industry upside down, and Air France and KLM said earlier this month that they expect common traffic to drop by more than 90% in months to come.
Without a clear end to the crisis in sight, Air France will obtain 3 billion euros in direct loans from the French state and a 4 billion euros bank loan guaranteed by the state, the airline said in a statement.
“We must save our national airline,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on TF1 television on Friday. He said the government, the airline’s largest shareholder, was not currently considering nationalizing Air France.
In exchange for the bailout, Le Maire said the government would establish more cost-effective conditions and policies that are more environmentally friendly and less polluting.
In the Netherlands, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra announced that the government will provide between 2 and 4 billion euros (2.16-4.32 billion dollars) to help the airline KLM survive the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on its operations. He said the money would likely be in the form of guarantees and loans to the carrier.
He said the government was coming to the rescue of KLM “because of the vital importance that this company, combined with (Amsterdam Airport) Schiphol, has for the Dutch economy and jobs”.
KLM “is the first domino at the start of a long series. If KLM falls, this has consequences not only for the company and its staff, but for all the dominoes that follow. For Schiphol, for ground staff “and other companies dependent on international air links, said Hoekstra.
The Dutch minister said the support would be subject to conditions. “It is money from all of us and it means that we will ask for something in return. “