March 3, 2020 / 11:41 AM / 3 months ago

Coronavirus crisis to speed airline consolidation - Air France-KLM CEO

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

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Disruption from the spread of coronavirus will increase pressure for consolidation in the airline industry, the head of Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) said on Tuesday.

“In terms of consolidation, I would say yes, there are quite a few weak carriers around the world,” Chief Executive Ben Smith told an aviation conference.

“Most definitely I believe this will accelerate consolidation,” he said, speaking during a panel at the A4E Aviation Summit, hosted by an association of European carriers.

Smith did not say whether he expected such consolidation to be driven by airline bankruptcies or mergers or both.

There have been a number of recent airline failures in Europe, whose airline industry is seen as significantly more fragmented than the same sector in the United States.

Reporting by Laurence Frost, Tim Hepher

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