Monday 16 September 2019

France, the Netherlands make up after Air France-KLM share purchase

Wopke Hoekstra and Bruno Le Maire answer questions . Photo: AP Photo/Christophe Ena via HH

The Netherlands and France have issued a joint statement confirming their determination to make the Air France-KLM combo ‘the best airline in the world’.

Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra was in Paris on Friday morning for talks following his surprise announcement earlier this week that the Netherlands had bought a stake in the airline holding company to secure the country’s interests.

France had not been briefed on the deal, was annoyed and asked for an explanation. Hoekstra said the decision not to tell France had been made because of the price sensitivity.

Air France-KLM’s share price fell 12% after news of the Dutch deal broke. The Netherlands now has a 14% stake in the company, in line with France. The total bill was some €744m.

Hoekstra and French finance minister Bruno Le Maire held talks for some 90 minutes before taking questions from the press.

‘I emphasised that what we have done shows our commitment to this joint enterprise,’ Hoekstra said. ‘It is of crucial importance that this great company performs better.. and at the same time, justice must be done to the vital interests of the French and Dutch state.’

RTL correspondent Roel Schreinemachers said after the news conference that both ministers were friendly to each other. ‘It will take more than 90 minutes to completely restore the relationship but I suspect they both realised it is no-ones interest for France and the Netherlands to brawl about this,’ he said.

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