France’s air rage at Dutch ‘power grab’ over Air France KLM

Dutch government's move to buy a stake in Air France-KLM has provoked outrage in Paris.


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The Dutch government's move to buy a stake in Air France-KLM provoked outrage in Paris, reports

French economy minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday called the move "incomprehensible and unprecedented."

The Dutch government announced late Tuesday that it was spending €680 million to buy a 12.7 percent share in the airline with a view to achieving parity with the French government, which has a 14.3 percent stake in the carrier. On Wednesday, the Dutch government said it had upped its stake to 14 percent.

"Through its shareholding, the Dutch government wants to be able to exercise direct influence over future developments at the Air France-KLM holding company to ensure that Dutch public interests are optimally assured," a Dutch statement said. The airline's share price plunged by 12 percent after Tuesday's announcement.

Paris has traditionally called the shots since the two carriers merged in 2004 — something that's increasingly annoyed the Netherlands.

Le Maire complained that neither he nor the company's board of governors had been informed before the purchase. "It's essential to respect the principles of good governance and that Air France-KLM be managed ... without national interference," he said.

French president Emmanuel Macron called on the Dutch government to "clarify its intentions," while French newspaper La Tribune called the Dutch move a "power grab."

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