Air France-KLM beat its own expectations and returned to core profits in the late summer.
As passenger numbers almost doubled year-on-year in the three months - to just under 17 million.
Air France-KLM predicted that its earnings would land positive for the final quarter and "slightly" positive over the whole of 2021.
They reached 800 million euros, which exceeded expectations.
The Franco-Dutch airline group said it had seen a rapid pickup in bookings for November and the Christmas holidays, after the United States announced in September it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated Europeans and Canada and Singapore also reopened.
though long-haul business remains hampered by restrictions in Australia, China and Japan.
Air France-KLM also whittled down its net debt to 8.1 billion euros by the end of September, down 2.9 billion euros from the end of 2020.
It received a total of 10.4 billion euros in loans backed by France and the Netherlands last year, and has for months been discussing a recapitalisation plan to lighten the resulting debt load.