The Dutch have made it a theme of national pride to be frugal, so they are used to being in an environment of lean and poor services as long as the main purpose is fulfilled, ie flying from A to B.
I'll bet >80% of the passengers "used to being in an environment of lean and poor services" amd flying on klm are not Dutch.
So either most people on earth are "used to being in an environment of lean and poor services", or your story does make little sense.
And maybe the French work the same hours as the Dutch, but a profit can come from many sources, not just a reduction in service to passengers. Like dropping or finetuning unprofitable routes, what this article is actually about.
Most people probably fly KLM once never to fly them again.
I avoid them like the pest. Last month I paid 20% percent more to avoid KLM which was the cheapest option.
For the anecdote:
On my last KL flight about a year ago, the climate control was set so low (to save on bleed air and money) that my Ducth neighbors, a couple in their 30ies, stole my blanket while I was asleep (again from the cold). It was too much to ask for another blanket, probably because they expected a frugal "no" answer. But I didn't think even a second about it and pushed the call bell, never saw the FA appear. So I told the Dutch couple to move over but they weren't moving (what an attitude), so I just stepped on their feet on the way to the aisle. Did they really think that they could win on attitude?
The FA gave me "I don't know if we have one left" answer but I planted myself in the galley until they eventually brought me one.
The cabin crew never came around with drinks and were busy with their own stuff.
The food was minimal for the 12 hour flight.
The Americans have a saying for this: tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.
IMO KLM is as much a problem as AF, if not a bigger one.
For AF, having such a low value partner as the only major partner in Europe drags both airlines down, even if it may seem to be making money.
So IMO one of the options at the group level is to look into building AF as the premium brand and KLM the low-cost brand.
AF's ground services aren't too bad, they have improved their lounge offering a bit lately too.
In terms of flights I couldn't say, they have never inspired me to book them. Bring back the A380 on the NRT route and they will be my airline of choice.
People vote with their wallets, JAL's huge profits are proof of that.