Coronavirus: Air France-KLM says traffic could recover to 70 pct by year-end

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The head of Air France-KLM said the airline’s activity could recover to nearly 70 percent of its potential by the end of the year but it largely hinges on whether passengers feel safe again in the wake of the coronavirus panic.

Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper Sunday that this best-case scenario would also see activity back at more than 80 percent by the end of 2021.

“This depends on a priority factor for us,” Smith told JDD. “Passengers and staff members must have complete confidence on board and at destination.” Air France-KLM plans to provide face masks when flights are busy in the coming weeks.

With air traffic restarting gradually after May 11, Smith says it could reach 15 percent of the normal schedule in early July. He doesn’t expect there will be any flights outside of the European Union before the end of August.

Separately, Smith told Les Echos newspaper Saturday that the pandemic is forcing the company to reassess its fleet in the short and medium term by temporarily grounding some planes and phasing out others in advance, such as the A340. He also suggested A380 planes might be withdrawn from the airline’s fleet earlier than 2022, as initially planned.

Despite the crisis, the airline will pursue efforts to make its fleet less polluting, with upcoming deliveries of two A350 planes and 32 more on order, Smith was quoted as saying in the Les Echos interview.

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