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Air France KLM's April passenger numbers up 9.2 percent from last year

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An Air France airplane lands at the Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Roissy

An Air France airplane lands at the Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France KLM carried a total of 8.96 million passengers across the group last month, up 9.2 percent from a year ago, the company said on Friday.

The airline's April passenger load factor - an industry metric that measures how much of an airline's passenger carrying capacity is used - rose by 0.6 percentage points from a year earlier to 88.7 percent.

Earlier this month, Air France-KLM blamed higher fuel costs and price competition as it posted a first-quarter loss.

New Chief Executive Ben Smith, who joined last September from Air Canada, is seeking to boost efficiency partly through better co-ordination of the Air France and KLM networks.

However, his task has been complicated by the recent arrival of the Dutch government as a major shareholder, keen to preserve KLM's autonomy.

The French state holds 14.3 percent of Air France KLM's share capital, while the Dutch state has a 14.0 percent stake. Delta Air Lines and China Eastern Airlines also each have stakes of 8.8 percent in the company.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta' Editing by Kim Coghill)