The French government, which currently holds a 14.3% shareholding in Air France-KLM, will double its stake by injecting an additional EUR4-5 billion euros (USD5-6 billion) into the group in spring 2021, sources told the French commercial radio network RTL on December 7.

The government hinted several times in November that it would continue to support Air France-KLM if needed, on top of Covid-related bailouts already provided to the group amounting to EUR10.4 billion (USD12.6 billion), EUR7 billion (USD8.5 billion) of which was to Air France (AF, Paris CDG). That bailout was the French airline’s first state aid in more than 25 years.

As previously reported, the newspaper Le Monde said on November 17 citing unnamed sources that Air France-KLM was in talks with the government and other investors to receive an additional EUR6 billion (USD7.3 billion) to secure its future.

The most significant shareholders in Air France-KLM are currently the government of France (14.3%), the government of the Netherlands (14.0%), China Eastern Airlines (8.76%), Delta Air Lines (8.76%), Capital Research & Management (6.5%), and Causeway Capital Management (4.96%), according to market data.

Air France and France’s Ministry of the Economy and Finance have declined to comment on the RTL report.

Air France-KLM posted a EUR1.05 billion (USD1.3 billion) operating loss for the third quarter of this year and it has warned of worse to come. The group is due to report its fourth-quarter results in February 2021.

In related news, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) revealed on December 4 that it would start offering “Covid-tested flights” between Amsterdam Schiphol and Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson, effective from December 15, as a three-week trial. It is the latest example of a European carrier adopting a testing strategy to boost passenger confidence.

Passengers will receive one test five days before their flight, another just before the flight, and a third after landing. The flights will operate four times a week, with Delta and KLM operating two frequencies each. Only passengers with negative test results will be accepted onboard.