Air France Stock Rises as Traffic Adds to Gains in Fares

Air France-KLM Group (AF) stock had its sharpest gain in almost four months after Europe’s biggest airline reported stronger ticket pricing and traffic growth.

The shares rose as much as 8 percent, the biggest jump since Sept. 10, and traded 6.9 percent higher at 8.71 euros as of 12:36 p.m. in Paris. Air France-KLM generally lagged rivals last year, with its 8.4 percent gain comparing with advances of 117 percent at British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) and 101 percent at EasyJet Plc. (EZJ)

Air France-KLM’s passenger traffic, or the number of people carried times the distance flown, rose 3.2 percent in December, driven by a 6.5 percent boost from the Americas, the Paris-based company said today. That compared with 2.2 percent traffic growth for the full year. Unit revenue per available seat kilometer, a measure of pricing, was “resilient” even amid weakness in the French business-travel market, it said.

“Unit revenues on the passenger side looked good and the report for December was reasonably solid overall,” said Stephen Furlong, an analyst at Davy Holdings in Dublin with a “hold” rating on Air France-KLM stock.

IAG shares rose as much as 2.2 percent today following a 3.4 percent gain yesterday, when it said full-year traffic rose 5.8 percent, buoyed by the purchase of Spanish discount carrier Vueling SA. The BA owner, where December traffic rose 3.6 percent -- slightly more than at Air France-KLM, has advanced on all five trading days this year for an 8.2 percent jump.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA), Europe’s second-biggest airline, is due to report 2013 traffic figures on Jan. 10. The German carrier’s stock rose as much as 3.3 percent today after roughly tracking Air France last year with an 8.3 percent advance.

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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