KLM repays last of Dutch government’s pandemic loans

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch airline KLM announced on Thursday that it was repaying the last part of the loans it had obtained from the Dutch government and banks to help it survive when the COVID-19 pandemic plunged global aviation into a tumble. free.

The carrier is repaying 277 million euros ($290 million) to the government, the latest outstanding loan out of a total of 942 million euros. Earlier this year, KLM repaid the rest of the loans to the banks.

The announcement came ahead of the day before CEO Pieter Elbers is to be replaced by Marjan Rintel and amid weeks of safeguards and canceled flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as the busy aviation hub winds down debate with staff shortages also blamed on the pandemic.

“KLM colleagues weathered the COVID19 crisis in 2020 and 2021. The current operational situation at Schiphol is also demanding and still demands a lot from our employees and customers. I would like to sincerely thank everyone at KLM for their tremendous efforts,” said Elbers.

KLM has downsized and cut costs to survive the pandemic and has seen air travel rebound since travel restrictions were eased, allowing it to repay loans in full.

However, the carrier warned it was not out of the woods yet, with high inflation, rising costs, the war in Ukraine and ongoing COVID-19 infections casting a shadow over the future.

“As a result, KLM has decided to retain access to future credits” totaling €2.4 billion from the government and banks, but added that “current forecasts show that KLM has sufficient financial resources for the years to come”.

Earlier this month, the head of the Air France-KLM airline alliance said it would take weeks or months to introduce new security guards to ease the pressure on the airport. Amsterdam, which has seen flight cancellations, damaging delays and major travel headaches as global air travel rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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