Picture Of Air France Boeing 747-400 F-GEXA Landing (Philippe Noret)

The Air France/KLM group just released its traffic figures for the month of December 2011. An overall improvement for passenger traffic of 7.5% from last year’s December (2010) was most dramatic in Europe with a 14.8% rise, the Americas came in second with a 9.0% increase, followed by Africa/Middle East with 5.1% jump. The carrier’s Asian network only saw a 4% rise in traffic while the Carribean/Indian Ocean network traffic only appreciated by 3.6%. The 6.11 million passengers transported this past December proved a double digit improvement to last year’s December’s 5.47 million (11.7% more). The net increase in number of passengers transported this year is a stern reminder of last year’s 5,100 flight cancellations that followed two rounds of extreme winter weather in December alone. The cargo segment in keeping with slowing demand, only recorded modest improvement of 0.3% in Revenue Tonne Kilometer and 0.1% in Available Tonne Kilometer.

Le Figaro newspapers citing financial forecast from Secafi Consultancy signals that Air France may have bled 183 millions Euros between April and September 2011 hence the premature exit of CEO Pierre Henri Gourgeon in this past October. The newspaper anticipates among other top priorities for new CEO Alexandre De Juniac a salaries and hiring freeze, a more limited engagement in Alitalia’s capital from the current 25% as well as more stringent cost controls measures at Air France (as KLM may have recorded profits during the same period).

Already, the carrier announced last week that it would suspend its Paris-Newark flights from April 20102 to October 2012 following a reduction from 7 to 5 weekly flights in the same route this winter. Retreating altogether from Newark would allow Air France to consolidate its flight operations to New York JFK airport while still retaining up to 13 daily flights to Newark Liberty in New Jersey from Heathrow, Amsterdam and Paris thanks to its Air France/KLM Joint Venture with Delta Airlines. A new strategic plan articulating entirely the various cost savings initiatives should be available as early as Thursday when Air France’s Board convenes.

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