We lost about 70% of revenue to COVID-19 – KLM

KLM, the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, says it lost over 70 per cent of its annual revenue in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Vice Chairman, Commercial Division, Air France-KLM, Pleter Bootsma, disclosed this during a press briefing to commemorate the company’s 75 years of operating in Nigeria.

According to him, Africa is a big part of the company’s recovery process and booking and reservations for the airline are picking up.

He said, “The crisis has been deep for the airline industry after the COVID-19 hit the world, yes it has been an extremely difficult time for us, we have lost about 70-80 per cent of our revenues.

“We have $90bn in a year on the passenger’s side and if you lose 80 per cent of that is immense. But Africa stood strong during the crisis and was the best part of the network during the crisis. We are very happy to rebuild our African network right now.

“We are on the face of recovery as bookings have started picking up.”

Bootsma added that the ongoing war in Ukraine was a major hit on the airline industry as it had driven up the cost of doing business for airlines.

He said, “We really see that this is the time for our recovery. But unfortunately, we are not out of trouble because of the consequences of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“All the prices have increased as you all know. So that is another hit for the airline industry as well. Our cost of doing business has increased tremendously in the last few weeks. So, while we were just about to recover on the revenue side, we got a hit on the cost side.”

He added that the company was working towards a 30 per cent emission reduction by 2030. According to him, the company is in the process of repairing some of the loans it has incurred.

According to him, while the company isn’t staring bankruptcy in the face, it needs to repair its loans, recapitalise, and navigate its way to economic safety.

Also speaking, the Country Manager, Air France-KLM, Nigeria, Christine Quantin, stated the airline had expanded its capacity on European routes by 10 per cent compared to 2021.

He said, “In the past few months, we have seen demand for air travel increasing as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the Netherlands and other European Union countries. KLM has responded by expanding capacity on European routes by 10 per cent compared to last year, almost matching the 2019 pre-pandemic level.

In his remarks, the Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lagos, Mr Michel Deelen, said the airline has been operating in Nigeria for 75yeaes because Nigerians recognise quality.

He said, “It is a great honour to have you here for this anniversary it is not easy for a company to be in existence for 75years. I think that is also because Nigerians recognize quality when they see it. And they have been patronizing KLM airline in Nigeria and that shows why KLM is still here. So that just showed you that there is a demand that KLM is fulfilling.”

Article first published on the Punch Website

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