Air France-KLM may seek new fundraising measures in the coming months to reduce its debt and strengthen its balance sheet, its chief executive Ben Smith said during an online industry event on April 19.

He spoke on the same day that the group announced the “success” of its recent share issue, which raised EUR1.036 billion euros (USD1.25 billion) and shifted the shareholdings in the company. The French government more than doubled its stake to 28.6% and China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao) raised its ownership from 8.8% to 9.6%, while the issue diluted the Dutch government’s equity stake to 9.3% and that of Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) declined to 5.8%.

“We have a heavy debt burden that is holding back our balance sheet, so this should be reviewed later this year,” Smith said, as quoted by Bourse Direct. “If and when there is a good time to do it, I am not in a position today to confirm any date.”

Smith said he thought the share issue went well, but he also revealed that Air France-KLM still planned to operate at just 50% of its capacity during the summer. He hoped this would increase, he added, as he felt encouraged by progress in the European Union on vaccinations and digital health passes.

“We’re loading capacity on an opportunistic basis. We have enough crew trained and qualified to fly much more,” he said.

Last year, the group received state-secured Covid-related bailouts amounting to EUR10.4 billion (USD12.3 billion).

In a statement on April 19 summarising the share issue, Air France-KLM said: “The proceeds of the capital increase will be allocated to strengthen the equity of Air France. Air France will use the allocated amount to consolidate its liquidity and finance general corporate purposes in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.”

It added that the group, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, had meanwhile “reiterated the economic, financial, and environmental commitments made in the framework of the state loan and reflected in its transformation plan.”