Paris — Air France-KLM blamed higher fuel costs and price competition as it posted a deeper first-quarter loss on Friday, sending the airline group’s shares lower. The Franco-Dutch company reported a 1.9% drop in unit revenue for January to March but said pressure should ease in the rest of the year as rival airlines’ capacity growth slows. Air France-KLM shares were down 4.4% to €9.78 at 8.13am GMT, after the group said its operating loss widened to €303m from €118m a year earlier. Fuel costs and excess capacity also led to ballooning losses at Lufthansa, the German airline said this week. “The first quarter has been challenging for the European airline industry, including the Air France-KLM Group,” CEO Ben Smith said. “Substantial industry capacity growth in the off-peak business period led to unit revenue pressure.” Smith, who joined last September from Air Canada, is looking to boost efficiency in part through better co-ordination of the Air France and KLM networks and fleets, b...

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