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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Troubled airlines scent recovery
KLM aircraft
KLM's recovery is not off the ground yet
Two troubled European airlines, Dutch carrier KLM and Greek national airline Olympic Airways, have surprised analysts with their financial figures.

KLM posted a smaller-than-expected loss, a day after announcing it was making progress in talks with its workforce about restructuring and up to 4,500 job cuts.

KLM, which is Europe's fourth largest carrier, said it expected to break even in the current financial year.

Its share price skipped 5% higher after it reported a first-quarter operating loss of 66m euros (47m; $75m) compared with aviation experts' gloomier forecasts of 75m euros.

'Jobs shake-out essential'

KLM is more reliant on Asian routes than many European airlines and was badly hurt by the outbreak of the deadly Sars virus. It said in June that business was "lousy".

Chief executive Leo van Wijk said the first quarter figures "continue to reinforce the necessity of structural changes" as demand remained "weak".

Sales fell by 16% in the first quarter of the airline's financial year to 1.4bn euros.

Olympic hopeful

Meanwhile, Greek flag-carrier Olympic Airways finally unveiled its 2001 accounts.

Olympic Airways plane
Can Olympic Airways avoid a Greek tragedy?

They showed rising losses and falling sales.

Olympic Airways said it had broken even at the operating level in 2002, and would soon present its accounts for the year.

But Olympic's auditors cast doubt on the accuracy of any figures, saying there were gaps in the airline's records because it does not have a fully computerised system.

In 2001, Olympic's sales fell to 809m euros from 830m in 2000, while operating losses jumped to 144m euros in 2001 from 95m euros the previous financial year.

The Greek Government has been trying unsuccessfully to privatise Olympic to solve its problems in time for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Analysts remain sceptical about the airline's chances of finding a buyer.


SEE ALSO:
KLM despairs at 'lousy' business
04 Jun 03  |  Business
Sars sends KLM into record loss
08 May 03  |  Business
Sars hits KLM's Asian routes
05 May 03  |  Business
EU to tackle Olympic Airways aid
22 Apr 03  |  Business
Ailing KLM to cut jobs
01 Apr 03  |  Business


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