* 2012 operating loss 300 mln eur vs 325 mln poll avg
* 2012 revenue rises 5.2 pct to 25.63 bln eur
* Unit revenue per available seat rises 5.9 pct in 2012
* Says to reduce unit costs, net debt this year
(Adds CFO comments on airline consolidation, analyst forecasts)
By James Regan and Cyril Altmeyer
PARIS, Feb 22 Air France-KLM said it
trimmed its operating loss last year as the carrier filled a
record proportion of its plane capacity and raised prices on
North Atlantic routes.
The loss of 300 million euros ($397 million) beat the
average forecast in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S analyst poll of
325 million and compared with a 353 million loss a year earlier.
Finance chief Philippe Calavia declined to give a profit
forecast for this year, saying the context was "too uncertain",
but told a briefing he was sticking to targets to return to
profit and cut debt by 2 billion euros by the end of next year.
Reducing debt "is the main goal of the group," Calavia said.
"Everything else is done to contribute to this."
Air France-KLM is renegotiating pay and conditions with
airline staff, cutting 5,122 jobs and has restructured its
network to cope with soaring fuel costs, a worsening cargo
business and tough competition from Gulf and low-cost carriers.
Analysts are expecting the carrier to post an operating
profit of 346 million euros this year and 885 million next,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimates.
German rival Lufthansa this week swung to a profit
of 990 million euros last year but withheld a dividend for the
second time in three years, choosing instead to bolster its
fleet and fund future restructuring.
Air France-KLM's net debt, which totalled 6.51 billion euros
at the end of 2011, was reduced to 5.97 billion last year thanks
to disposals and lower spending, with a target to cut it further
to 4.5 billion by the end of 2014.
Air France-KLM pledged to reduce costs at constant exchange
rates and fuel price, and lower net debt again this year,
without giving specific targets. Calavia said that ultimately 2
or 3 billion euros of debt was "enough" for the group.
"In 2013, we will maintain strict discipline in terms of
capacity management, investments and costs," Chief Executive
Jean-Cyril Spinetta said in a statement.
Air France-KLM will cut investments to 1.2 billion euros
this year from 1.5 billion in 2012, when 3,300 staff left the
company mostly through natural turnover, Calavia said.
He added that the group's voluntary departure plan would
have a greater impact this year and that new agreements with
workers would start to help from April, leading to a reduction
of several dozen million euros in wage costs.
Air France-KLM limited the rise in seating capacity on its
flight network to 0.6 percent last year, while traffic rose 2.1
percent, leading to a record 83.1 percent of capacity filled.
Unit revenue per available seat rose 5.9 percent overall,
rising 10.4 percent on North American routes, Calavia said,
adding that long-haul traffic had rebounded, while medium-haul
services were struggling and cargo traffic had deteriorated.
The carrier plans to raise passenger capacity this year by
1.5 percent overall, Calavia said, adding that it would continue
to cut capacity in cargo, where operating losses have ballooned.
Calavia added that the planned $11 billion merger of AMR
Corp and US Airways Group to create the
world's largest airline was "good news" as it would remove
capacity from Transatlantic routes.
Air France-KLM itself has money for consolidation despite
its debt-reduction target, although interesting opportunities
were outside Europe, especially in Latin America, Calavia said.
($1 = 0.7563 euros)
(Editing by Dominique Vidalon and David Cowell)