Skift Take

At Skift Global Forum last month, Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said the issues between France and the Netherlands were more of a media creation than a real thing. Recent events, however, suggest otherwise. Now, it's France complaining it's not getting its fair share.

The Netherlands has created an imbalance in the governance of Air France-KLM, a French government representative said, signaling a power struggle between the carrier’s two biggest shareholders remains unresolved.

The Dutch government needs to treat the airline like a normal listed company and choose between holding a stake in the group or in the KLM unit, Martin Vial, head of the French State Shareholdings Agency, said in a briefing Friday.

“We want a normalization of the capital structure,” Vial said in Paris. “In an international company, a unit can’t impose some kind of representation on the supervisory board of the parent.”

The situation “creates an imbalance in governance,” he said.

Relations deteriorated in February when the Netherlands stealthily acquired 14% of the carrier, matching the French stake. The countries subsequently agreed to examine their holdings and the capital structure of Air France and KLM. A working group was set up to examine governance, board representation, the Paris and Amsterdam hubs, strategy and a previous 2003 agreement.

Air France acquired KLM in 2004 but the carriers have been operating semi-independently ever since, based on various agreements to ensure the Dutch government maintained influence in the running of KLM.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Francois de Beaupuy from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Tags: air france, air france-klm, france, klm, the netherlands

Photo Credit: Representatives from the French government are upset with how The Netherlands seeks to influence Air France-KLM operations. Pictured are Air France jets. Bloomberg