Air France-KLM has reported a loss of €7.1 billion for financial 2020 as the global Covid-19 pandemic grounded international travel.

Passenger numbers fell 67 per cent last year, the airline said in a statement earlier, while revenue fell 59 per cent compared to the previous year.

Benjamin Smith, chief executive of Air France-KLM, said: “Last year tested the Air France-KLM Group with the most severe crisis ever experienced by the air transport industry.”

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He said that state support from the French and Dutch governments had helped the company significantly.

“We begin 2021 looking forward that this year will see an upturn in traffic as soon as vaccination is deployed on a large scale and borders once again reopen,” he said.

Air France-KLM took on €10.4 billion in state-backed loans last year.

However, after burning through €2.6 billion in cash in the fourth quarter, the airline said the first three months of this year will be “challenging” and involve a deeper hit to earnings.

The carrier expects to fly just 40 per cent of its pre-crisis capacity in the first quarter as restrictions on travel keep people at home.

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