High flier

Published in The Treasurer

Air France treasurer Frédérique Lacombe explains how her team is helping the airline to reduce its costs, pay down its debt and manage its business risks. Sally Percy reports 

If the airline industry is considered one of the most glamorous businesses to work in, then that must be doubly true when it’s a French airline that we are talking about.

So there will be many European treasurers who would secretly covet the job of Air France treasurer Frédérique Lacombe. But a business in any industry faces its own unique challenges and, as Lacombe herself will be the first to admit, airlines are no exception to this rule. They face very strong headwinds, both in the sky and on the ground.

Since the financial crisis and the economic meltdown that followed it, the Air France-KLM Group has been battling to curb its operating costs and to get on top of its net debt (which stood at €5.27bn as of 30 September 2014). With this in mind, Air France launched the Transform 2015 turnaround programme in 2012, which aimed to slash its cost base by €1.5bn. At the same time, it moved to regain competitiveness and take its brand ‘upmarket’ by enhancing its customer service and improving its seats, lounges and catering.

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