NL must make intentions with Air France-KLM clear, French president says

Emmanuel Macron, elected French president on 7 May 2017
Emmanuel Macron, elected French president on 7 May 2017Photo: Gouvernement français / Wikimedia Commons

French president Emmanuel Macron wants clarity from the Dutch government about its strategy with regard to Air France-KLM. Now that the Dutch state bought a considerable interest in the airline combination, it is important for the Netherlands to make its intentions clear, Macron said, AD reports.

The French government was surprised by the Netherlands' move, calling it "unfriendly" and "sneaky", according to the newspaper. The Netherlands was also accused of acting as an activist investor. Macron stressed that the interests of Air France-KLM must always be paramount. According to the president, the Netherlands' decision to take an interest in the combination must not be about sovereignty. 

The Netherlands now owns 14 percent of Air France-KLM's shares, the same percentage as the French government owns. Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance announced on Tuesday evening that the Netherlands had been building an interest in the airline group over the past week. More and more important decisions are being made within the airline combination that the Dutch State is only informed about afterwards, Hoekstra said. "We want to sit at the table and not be surprised", Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management said.

Shortly before making the news public, Hoekstra informed the French government of the move. According to Paris, that happened at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The French government said it did not understand Hoekstra's motivation. France said that it has been expressly consulting with the Netherlands about Air France-KLM in recent months, according to the newspaper. The French also said that the Netherlands torpedoed the value of the airline group's shares by buying its interest.