France and EU close to agreement on Air France rescue: Minister


FILE PHOTO: Air France Airbus A350’s first airliner prepares for take off after a ceremony at the aircraft manufacturer’s headquarters in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, September 27, 2019. REUTERS / Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) – France and the European Union are close to an agreement on a bailout for Air France, which, like other carriers, has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, the minister for Finances Bruno Le Maire, confirming media information.

“We are approaching an agreement … It is a matter of days,” Le Maire told France Info radio, adding that there could be concessions to ensure fair competition.

“It’s not about closing lines or cutting jobs. Concessions are requested to ensure fair competition between Air France and other carriers, ”said Le Maire without providing further details.

French daily Le Monde said on Friday that the French government and the European Union executive were close to an agreement on the terms of a bailout for Air France.

The expected agreement would see Air France give up fewer airport flight slots at its Paris base than initially requested by the European Commission, in particular at Orly airport, the newspaper said.

The Air France-KLM group recorded a net loss of 7.1 billion euros ($ 8.38 billion) last year.

It has received € 10.4 billion in loans and guarantees from France and the Netherlands and has negotiated a state-backed recapitalization as EU regulators seek airport slot concessions at Paris-Orly and Amsterdam-Schiphol.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Alex Richardson and Louise Heavens

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