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Air France: Family Aid a Priority

August 9, 2000

PARIS (AP) _ Air France says its priority has been ``moral and financial″ help for the families of those killed in the Concorde crash, not its own economic concerns as those flights remain grounded.

Families of crash victims will be compensated, the airline’s chief financial officer, Philippe Calavia, said Tuesday. He did not specify the sums that would be involved.

Air France’s priority has been ``moral and financial aid to families of victims,″ since the luxury jet crashed outside Paris shortly after takeoff on July 25, killing 113 people.

The Concorde pilot killed in the crash, Christian Marty, was buried Tuesday. About 500 mourners gathered in the small village of Villars-Colmars in southeast France to pay their last respects.

Marty, 54, was one of 109 passengers and crew members on board who died, along with four people on the ground.

Friends and family, including Marty’s widow, Christine, and two children, attended the open-air Mass held at a children’s playground in the village square. Air France President Jean-Cyril Spinetta was among those at the private funeral.

In Paris, meanwhile, Calavia said the airline may have to devise flight alternatives if the Concorde remains grounded.

But he said the suspension of Concorde flights has not caused Air France a significant loss in income. Analysts have said Concorde flights accounted for 1.3 percent of the airline’s revenues last year.

The French Transportation Ministry ordered a ban on Concorde flights while investigators try to figure out why the aircraft, spewing flames, fell out of the sky.

It is ``much too early″ to speculate about the future of the Concorde, he said.

``What I can say is that if the fleet remains grounded, we’ll have to imagine a new program concerning flights on North Atlantic routes,″ Calavia said. ``There are passengers using the Concorde, and they won’t disappear.″

Passengers are not shying away from Air France despite the crash, said Calavia.

Air France Concorde flights _ regular flights to New York as well as chartered flights _ generated $97 million in the year ending April 30, Calavia said.

Commenting on Air France’s first-quarter revenue figures released late Monday, Calavia said North Atlantic routes posted a 30 percent increase in revenue, and that the partnership with U.S. airline Delta Air Lines has been essential to Air France’s expansion on these routes.

The 70 percent increase in oil costs in the first quarter was largely compensated by a rise in traffic and profitability, Calavia said.

First quarter net profit, to be released September 4, will be ``significantly higher″ than 1999, he added. Air France said first quarter revenue was up 19 percent from the same period last year.

Also Tuesday, the Accident and Inquiry Office, which is conducting the crash investigation, said experts were still trying to determine the exact cause of the crash. A preliminary report is expected at the end of August.

The study of the fragmented plane has been slowed because investigators have detected small amounts of asbestos in its motors, and workers have been ordered to take extra health precautions, investigators said Tuesday. Older planes’ motors often contain asbestos.

Officials announced Monday that all 113 victims had been identified.

Update hourly