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Dutch move on Air France-KLM 'benefits nobody' - French minister

Air France and KLM aircrafts stand parked at Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, on May 7, 2018. Air France shares went into a tailspin on the Paris stock exchange on May 7 after the strike-hit company's CEO resigned and the government seemed to worry about the Robin Utrecht / ANP / AFP

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie warned Thursday that the Dutch government's purchase of a major stake in Air France-KLM "benefits nobody".

"It's not reasonable to remain in this situation, which benefits nobody -- not Air France, not KLM, and not the airline as a whole," Le Maire told Public Senat television.

He will hold talks with the Dutch Finance Minister in Paris on Friday to discuss the Netherlands' purchase of a 14 percent stake in the Franco-Dutch airline, just under the 14.3 percent already held by France.

"Together let's try to find a way out of this," Le Maire said, adding thathe expected "explanations" from his Dutch counterpart.

But he insisted that the alliance formed in 2004 remained "solid," despite concerns that the Dutch intend to step up their oversight of CEO Ben Smith's plans to improve profitability in Europe's cutthroat aviation market.

Air France-KLM's stock sank a further 1.3 percent in opening trade in Paris on Thursday, after the Dutch government announced late Wednesday it had bulked up its holding to 14 percent.

The shares plunged 11.7 percent on Wednesday after news broke of the Dutch government's initial stealth purchase of a 12.7 percent stake, catching the French establishment off guard.