Air France Narrows First-Quarter Loss on Higher Fares, Cost Cuts

Air France-KLM (AF) Group narrowed its loss in the first quarter as it raised average fares, and said it’s poised to meet its target for lower unit costs and debt this year as Europe’s largest airline works through a savings plan.

The airline posted an operating loss of 530 million euros ($692 million), compared with a loss of 611 million euros a year earlier, it said in a statement today. The loss matched the median forecast of analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Sales rose to 5.72 billion euros from 5.65 billion euros.

The quarterly figures come in a year when Chief Executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta has said he won’t promise earnings improvement given fluctuations in fuel prices and uncertain trends in global economic conditions and world trade. Spinetta will step down on July 1, three months before he’s required to quit, with French unit head Alexandre de Juniac taking over.

“In a difficult and uncertain environment, the group continues the implementation of Transform 2015, which remains on track,” the airline said in the statement “It confirms its objectives for 2013 of a reduction in unit cost on a constant currency and fuel prices basis, and a reduction in net debt.”

The airline’s fuel bill for the quarter fell 14 million euros to 1.67 billion euros on the back of a 3 percent decline in volumes. Unit revenue per available seat kilometer rose 1.2 percent, and the load factor for passenger traffic rose by 0.5 point to 82.1 percent, the Paris-based company said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Rothman in Toulouse at aerothman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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