Why is The Hague buying Air France KLM shares?

The Dutch government has paid 680 million to boost its share in Air France-KLM to 12.7 percent and plans to put its stake on a par with that of the French government, at 14.3 percent. The press speculates on The Hague's motives and the consequences of this move.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

All for the sake of Schiphol airport

The ministers in question cited the protection of the "public interest" as the reason for the state's decision to acquire a share in Air France-KLM. De Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing explains what exactly they mean by this:

“The 'public interest' - which is so great that so far 680 million euros have been spent without prior public parliamentary debate - seems to consist mainly in Schiphol. Without 'KLM as an indispensable Dutch airline' Schiphol can no longer be a hub, said the minister. And if Schiphol is no longer a hub our business climate will be ruined. And governments in the Netherlands live for this business climate.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Power struggle could hurt airline

It can't be good for the company that the Dutch government now has a say in its management, fears De Telegraaf:

“In addition to the French government now The Hague is also watching over it. And in the meantime the airline's boss Ben Smith is supposed to ensure that the company's overall performance improves. ... This raises the question of how the French will react to the Dutch state's move. Because just as KLM is held very dear in the Netherlands, the French aren't exactly known for their lack of chauvinism. And that will put French-Dutch relations to the test. Not exactly a good starting point for a needy and already unwieldy Air-France-KLM.”