PARIS - The French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM has said that a "robust" business environment and "solid" traffic gave earnings a lift in the third quarter.

Air France-KLM said in a statement that its net profit edged 1.5 percent higher to 552 million euros ($643 million) in the period from July to September. Underlying or operating profit jumped by 38.7 percent to 1.022 billion euros on a 4.3-percent increase in sales to 7.234 billion euros. Passenger numbers were up 5.1 percent at 27.9 million in the three-month period.

Chief executive Jean-Marc Janaillac attributed the group's "strong operating performance" to "a robust business environment (that) translated into solid traffic and unit revenue trends." The improvement in passenger unit revenue "continued to be driven mainly by the strong recovery in Asia and Latin America," he said. Looking ahead, finance chief Frederic Gagey predicted a "strong improvement" in full-year earnings this year compared with those of 2016. "The long haul forward bookings for the coming four months stand above last year's levels and, based on the current outlook, the variation in unit revenue is expected to be positive in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year,"

Air France-KLM said.