Air France took advantage of health crisis to rebuild itself

The airline recorded in 2022 a profit above that before the COVIR, in 2019, and began the reimbursement of its debt.

by Guy Dutheil

“We’re back to business [we are back to business]”, welcomed, in English, Benjamin Smith, Managing Director of Air France-KLM, on the occasion of the presentation of the annual results of the airline, Friday, February 17. It is true that the Canadian leader has something to rejoice. After two years of abyssal losses, the Franco-Dutch company recorded a net profit of 728 million euros in 2022, against only 290 million euros in 2019, last year before the burst of the Cavid-19 pandemic. Better still, its operating profit, which reached 1.2 billion euros, is also greater than that of 2019. A boost of form which contrasts with the losses of 7.1 billion euros and 3.3 billion 2020 and 2021.

Paradoxically, Air France-KLM seems to be out of the crisis better armed than it entered. Let us judge: in 2022, its turnover, established at 26.39 billion euros, finished fairly close to that of 2019, which had culminated at 27.18 billion euros. However, the company only transported 83 million passengers to compare to the 104 million before the pandemic. Air France-KLM returns from afar. In 2021, in full sanitary turmoil, she had only conveyed 45 million passengers.

In addition to its financial results returned in the green, Benjamin Smith has other reasons for satisfaction. Graphic in support, it boasted that it was “Air France which [has] directed the resumption of air transport”. The company has done better than its IAG rivals, British Airways parent company, and Lufthansa. To achieve this, it has deployed “the most ambitious increase in capacity for its customers”. Ambitious but limited, because it only amounted to 85 % of that of 2019. However, said Smith, in 2022, the cabins of her planes “were better filled [than three years earlier]”.


On examination, the company has taken advantage of the crisis to transform itself radically. His priority, as his boss indicated, was to sign an agreement with the National Union of Lines Pilots (SNPL) “to increase the Transavia fleet”. The number of aircraft of the low -cost subsidiary has more than doubled, going from a small forty devices nearly 100 today.

At the same time, Air France has significantly reduced the activity of its regional subsidiary Hop !, “Replaced by Transavia in Orly”. A choice that lightened his accounts. “If we had not carried out this restructuring, we would have lost more than 300 million euros” in 2022, underlined Anne Rigail, director general of Air France. A loss that would have been added to the 250 million euros evaporated before the crisis. The COVID period was also an opportunity for the Company to prune in its costs, in particular by getting rid of its oldest and most gourmet fuel planes to replace them with new much more sober and less polluting devices.

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/Media reports cited above.