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Air France-KLM Q3 turnover above pre-Covid levels

European airline group Air France-KLM said Friday that its third quarter revenues had exceeded its pre-pandemic turnover in 2019, fuelled by strong post-Covid demand for travel.

The company recorded a net profit of 460 million euros ($459 million) between July and September in a second consecutive quarter of profitability, despite the pressures of soaring inflation and fuel costs, it said in a statement.

The Covid-19 pandemic grounded planes worldwide as the global health emergency triggered stringent travel restrictions, devastating the aerospace and tourism industries.

But pent-up demand as economies and borders reopened saw the French-Dutch group record a turnover of 8.1 billion euros in the third quarter, its key summer season.

The result exceeded the equivalent figure for 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, by more than 500 million euros.

The airline group transported 25 million passengers in the third quarter, an increase of almost 50 percent on the same period last year.

It said the performance will allow it to reduce its debt and pay back one billion euros of state loans.

Chief executive Benjamin Smith said the group “remains confident in its ability to further increase capacity during the winter season”.

Air France-KLM made huge losses in 2020 and 2021 after the pandemic slashed passenger numbers to around a third of normal levels, but has made a profit so far this year.

The French and Dutch governments intervened to prop up the airline at the most acute moment of the crisis, but the group is emerging stronger after two recapitalisations.