Martinair to axe passenger operation next year

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Air France-KLM's holiday carrier Martinair is to axe its passenger business late next year in order to focus completely on its air freight operations.

Martinair, which uses four Boeing 767s for passenger transport, had previously indicated that it was considering such a strategy. KLM's management has today confirmed the plan.

KLM will pick up some of the passenger services offered by Martinair and will also try to take on as many of the carrier's employees as it can.

Around a third of Martinair's 1,800 personnel will be affected.

Martinair says its "competence" in the air freight sector has driven the decision, but it admits that its passenger business "lacks the necessary scale" to be profitable.

It will continue to operate to holiday destinations in the Caribbean until the end of 2011 and passengers can still book Martinair flights.

"We realise that this is an emotional decision for Martinair's dedicated employees and many others," says Martinair chief Paul Gregorowitsch.

Martinair hopes to continue operating as part of Air France-KLM's cargo division. It has a freighter fleet of seven Boeing MD-11s and 747-400ERFs.