EU Approves French Bailout Package For Air France-KLM

Credit: Air France-KLM Group

The European Commission (EC) has approved the French state’s €7 billion ($7.7 billion) package to help Air France-KLM withstand the COVID-19 crisis, saying the plans comply with EU state aid rules while praising France's decision to link funding to environmental targets. 

France, which owns 14.3% of the airline group, has pledged state guarantees and a shareholder loan totalling €7 billion to help Air France-KLM weather the coronavirus crisis that has brought the aviation industry to a virtual standstill. The Netherlands has also promised €2-4 billion in funding for the group, in which it holds a 14% stake. 

EC EVP in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager noted that in this instance the funding was urgently needed and that the aviation sector was important in terms of jobs and connectivity. 

“France has also announced plans for certain green policy choices as regards Air France. Good. Member States are free to design measures in line with their policy objectives and EU rules,” Vestager added.

France has said Air France must make environmental efforts in return for the financing and that it wants the carrier to become the world’s most environmentally respectful airline. French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said April 30 that Air France must drastically reduce its emissions, partly by cutting domestic flights, saying its support for the airline was “not a blank check.” 

France wants Air France to cut its CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer by 50% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels and to reduce the volume of its CO2 emissions from flights within metropolitan France by 50% by the end of 2024, Le Maire said.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.