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Air France KLM traffic rises; transport boss touted as new CEO

Previous chief left abruptly in May after staff nixed pay plan aimed at ending strikes that caused heavy losses

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The higher figures lifted Air France KLM shares, which were up 5.5 per cent in early trading, although they remain down by roughly 44 per cent so far in 2018, mainly due to the impact of the strikes on the company.

Paris

AIR France KLM, hit by strikes and without a CEO since May, reported higher passenger traffic for June on Monday, while a leading French transport executive was touted as its possible new chief executive.

The company said the group overall - comprising the Air France KLM, Hop! and Transavia networks - carried 9.3 million passengers in June, up 3.7 per cent from a year earlier.

The overall load factor, a measure of the extent to which an airline has filled its planes, rose to 89.3 per cent in June from 87.7 per cent last year, it said.

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The higher figures lifted Air France KLM shares, which were up 5.5 per cent in early trading, although they remain down by roughly 44 per cent so far in 2018, mainly due to the impact of the strikes on the company.

Air France KLM said last month it hoped to appoint a new CEO "as quickly as possible", against the backdrop of concerns by some shareholders over the process.

The airline has been hunting for a new boss since the abrupt departure of Jean-Marc Janaillac in May after staff rejected a pay proposal aimed at ending a series of strikes that have resulted in heavy losses.

French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Monday that Catherine Guillouard, chief executive of French public transport group RATP, was being considered for the Air France KLM CEO position.

An Air France KLM spokesman declined to comment.

Last week, France's transport minister Elisabeth Borne said it was important the new CEO of Air France KLM was an air transport specialist.

The French government has a stake of around 14 per cent in Air France KLM, while Delta Airlines and China Eastern Airlines each hold 8.8 per cent.

Irish brokerage Goodbody wrote in a research note that Ms Guillouard could nevertheless be a good appointment, given her experience of dealing with unions and at Air France.

"Guillouard has previously worked at Air France for 10 years in various roles including finance management, flight operations and human resources," wrote Goodbody.

"In 2001, serving as senior vice-president of flight operations, she chaired the committee for the establishment of flight operations where all of the company's technical and commercial flight personnel trade unions are located and, as such, would have some experience of dealing with Air France unions." REUTERS