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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 10:55 GMT
Merger profits for Air France KLM
KLM and Air France tailfins
Air France and KLM merged in May 2004
Merger savings and a rise in passenger numbers have helped Air France KLM report a 56% increase in profits.

The airline group saw operating profits for the three months to September rise to 528m euros ($619m; 361m), despite a 29% rise in fuel costs.

The airline also banked 505m euros by selling its stake in the Amadeus booking system, and this helped triple net profits to 717m euros.

Its shares rose by 4.4% in morning trading to 15.35 euros.

Merger savings

We are just beginning to enjoy the benefits
Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Air France KLM chairman

"The strong traffic which we are continuing to see, together with the level of our advance bookings, make us confident that we will be able to sustain these good results over the year as a whole," said Air France KLM chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta.

The merger was creating a competitive advantage, he said, "from which we are just beginning to enjoy the benefits".

The airline expects to save 300m euros through merger efficiencies in the year to March 2006.

Although Air France and KLM joined together in May 2004, both airlines have kept their individual brand names, and maintain their own customer-facing operations.

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