On 27 February, the Dutch state announced that it had purchased a 14% stake in Air France-KLM. France already held a 14.3% share in the airline.
In its declaration to AMF (the French Financial Markets Authority), the Dutch state declared that it was not planning to buy more shares or to take control of the company. The Dutch finance minister added that the aim was to eventually get to a position equal to that of the French state.
As to the reason of the purchase, the Dutch state declared that it intends to influence the future development of Air France-KLM in order to ensure that the national interests of the Netherlands are respected. In a joint press release, the Dutch and French finance ministers said that their shared priority was the strengthening of Air France-KLM. They will notably work on the defence of the interests of the hubs of both Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol.
This is an interesting development in a sector where the tendency in the past decades has been to privatise national airlines (and, in several EU member states, airports as well – France is currently planning to privatise Roissy-Charles de Gaulle).
The regulation of airports by independent supervisory authorities such as the Regulatory Body for Transport in Belgium has been set up by the European Union notably to counterbalance the danger of discrimination in favour of national airlines concerning airport charges. In a context where, as is currently the case for Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol, public entities have a stake in both the airport and the national airline, the role of the independent supervisory authority is even more important in that regard.
In Belgium, no Belgian public entity has no longer a stake in Brussels Airlines. However, discrimination between airlines may occur regardless of nationality, but because of other criteria such as airline size. In this framework, one of the missions of the Regulatory Body for Transport is to handle complaints from airlines that allege they have been discriminated against concerning airport charges.