Gilbert Sedbon/PARIS

AIR FRANCE HAS turned in a modest profit for the first half of its 1995/6 financial year, but with the carrier's weakest traffic months still to come and the fall-out of French industrial unrest in December, the airline expects further heavy losses for the full year.

The airline managed to show a pre-tax profit of Fr221 million ($44 million) for the first half to the end of September, marking a turnaround from the Fr477 million lost a year earlier.

Losses are due to mount, however, in the weaker second half. The widespread industrial unrest, which crippled much of France's transport system in December, is alone expected to cost the airline at least Fr300 million.

Air France had hoped to limit full-year losses to Fr1.2 billion, but admits that this now looks unlikely. The airline will also set aside Fr630 million to cover the cost of the announced cabin-crew redundancy scheme, but at group level this will be offset by the Fr380 million received from the buy-back of its stake in the Belgian flag carrier Sabena.

For the group, including Air Inter and other holdings, the half-year pre-tax profit stood at Fr355 million. The parent Air France airline has distanced itself from sister companies as part of the plan for its state aid injections.

Source: Flight International