French finance minister backs Air France-KLM's CEO Ben Smith

French finance minister backs Air France-KLM's CEO Ben Smith
FILE PHOTO: French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire arrives for an event at the Louvre Carrousel in Paris, February 20, 2019. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo   -  Copyright  POOL New(Reuters)
By Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday he supported Ben Smith, the Chief Executive of Air France-KLM, ahead of a meeting with his Dutch counterpart to discuss the future of the airline.

Le Maire, who is to meet with the Netherlands’ Wopke Hoekstra on Friday for talks following the Dutch state’s unexpected acquisition of a stake in the airline, called for the Dutch government to let Smith get on with his work.

Hoekstra summoned Smith earlier this month to secure assurances that Air France would keep key routes open at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and KLM would retain the partial independence it has enjoyed since the airlines merged in 2004.

Separately, Le Maire said the government will carry on with its privatisation plan for Aeroports de Paris.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Leigh Thomas)

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