Ben Smith Air France-KLM plans sales and efficiency drive to lift profit

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PARIS/HELSINKI (Reuters) – Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) outlined plans to expand its budget Transavia business and push the core French carrier upmarket, while overhauling its fleet in pursuit of improved sales and profitability.

FILE PHOTO: An Air France Airbus A330-200 airplane lands at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

After a wave of Air France strikes that cost 335 million euros (£289 million) in 2018, the Franco-Dutch airline group has stabilised under Chief Executive Ben Smith thanks to union deals that have increased both wage costs and operating flexibility.

In his first major strategy presentation since he joined from Air Canada last year, Smith set a 7-8% profit margin goal for 2024 and dangled the “prospect” of renewed dividends – last paid out to shareholders in 2008.

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