Air France-KLM says weather holds back Dec traffic

PARIS Tue Jan 8, 2013 4:10am EST

Passengers check-in at Air France desk in Nice International airport February 7, 2012 as the main pilots' union and Air France's top unions called for a four-day strike across the aviation sector to protest against a draft bill aimed at ensuring a minimum service for air travellers during industrial action. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Passengers check-in at Air France desk in Nice International airport February 7, 2012 as the main pilots' union and Air France's top unions called for a four-day strike across the aviation sector to protest against a draft bill aimed at ensuring a minimum service for air travellers during industrial action.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France-KLM said bad weather held back growth in passenger traffic last month while its cargo business continued to decline as it reduced freighter capacity.

Traffic was flat in December, leading to an overall rise for 2012 of 2.1 percent, Air France-KLM said. The passenger load factor, a measure of the portion of capacity filled, rose 0.3 percentage points last month to 81.8 percent.

Cargo traffic fell 5.7 percent in December for a full-year decline of 6.3 percent, the carrier added. The company cut freight capacity over the full year by 3.5 percent.

December travel was disrupted "by severe weather conditions, notably in North America," the carrier said in a statement on Tuesday. "As a result, traffic was stable for a 0.4 percent reduction in capacity."

The full-year passenger load factor rose 1.2 points to 83.1 percent, Air France-KLM said.

European rival International Airlines Group (ICAG.L) said on Monday that its December traffic rose 0.3 percent as 3.9 percent growth at British Airways made up for an 8.4 percent fall at Spain's Iberia.

IAG has seen worsening economic conditions in Spain hit its performance in recent months, undermining strength in long-haul travel out of London.

Air France on Monday unveiled lower prices for passengers travelling without checked baggage in a move aimed at reviving loss-making short and medium-haul routes by tackling budget carriers and high-speed trains head on.

Air France-KLM has been under mounting pressure to act as long-haul operations, its traditional cash cow, have failed to make up for domestic and regional European losses. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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