Air France plans long-haul push

Air France-KLM Group reported a 35 per cent earnings increase for 2016 and said it will boost the lucrative long-haul market. Operating profit increased to 1.05 billion euros (Dh4.1 billion, $1.1 billion) from 780 million euros in 2015, helped by a lower fuel bill and productivity gains at Dutch arm KLM, Europe?s biggest airline said Thursday. Analysts had predicted a figure of about 950 million euros, based on eight estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The unit-revenue trend and improved forward bookings point to a recovery in demand and pricing, Chief Financial Officer Frederick Gagey said on a conference call, adding that the company is encouraged though ?not euphoric?. The group cut expenses 1 per cent last year, excluding the fuel bill, which fell by 1.5 billion euros or 26 per cent, and aims to push savings above 1.5 per cent in 2017 at constant currencies and oil costs by ?amplifying? current initiatives. The jet-fuel bill should increase by no more than 100 million euros, it said. The Paris-based company restated its 2015 results and revised the 2016 figures to exclude the Servair catering arm after selling a 49.99 per cent stake in the business to Gategroup Holding AG on December 29. Courtesy: GulfNews.com

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