Air France-KLM postpones retirement of 13 aircraft

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Air France-KLM is postponing the replacement of 13 aircraft in its fleet in order to bring its investment spending under greater control.

Chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, speaking at an investors' briefing yesterday, said the carrier wanted to "try to control the investment plan" and bring gearing to a target figure of 0.5 by the end of 2013-14.

High fuel prices, before the economic slump, had underlined the business case for disposing of Boeing 747 aircraft before the end of their lives, and replacing them with Boeing 777s.

But Gourgeon says: "Now we see more constraint on the financial side, and fuel is not as high."

He says this has swung the argument in favour of retaining the aircraft. He says that replacement of 13 passenger aircraft will be postponed to 2016.

Gourgeon says that the airline will also be better positioned to take advantage of next-generation aircraft.

He points out that there have been a "number of issues" which have influenced the strategy, "not only on our side with the growth but on the side of the aircraft manufacturers".