Air France

For other uses, see Air France (disambiguation).
Société Air France, S.A.
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 7 October 1933 (1933-10-07)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Flying Blue
Airport lounge
  • Première Lounge
  • Departures Lounge
  • Arrivals Lounge
  • Salon Air France
  • SkyTeam Lounge
  • Air France Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 235 (+44 ordered)[1]
Destinations 204
Company slogan France is in the air
Parent company Air France–KLM
Headquarters Roissypôle
Charles de Gaulle Airport
Tremblay-en-France, France
Key people
Employees 69,553 (5 March 2014)

Air France (French pronunciation: [ɛːʁ fʁɑ̃s]; formally Société Air France, S.A.), stylized as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, (north of Paris). It is a subsidiary of the Air France–KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. As of 2013 Air France serves 36 destinations in France and operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to 168 destinations in 93 countries (including overseas departments and territories of France) and also carried 46,803,000 passengers in 2015. The airline's global hub is at Charles de Gaulle Airport, with Orly Airport, Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport, Marseille Provence Airport, Toulouse Blagnac Airport, and Nice Côte d'Azur Airport serving as secondary hubs.[3] Air France's corporate headquarters, previously in Montparnasse, Paris,[4] are located on the grounds of Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris.[5]

Air France was formed on 7 October 1933 from a merger of Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA). During the Cold War, from 1950 until 1990, it was one of the three main Allied scheduled airlines operating in Germany at West Berlin's Tempelhof and Tegel airports. In 1990, it acquired the operations of French domestic carrier Air Inter and international rival UTA – Union de Transports Aériens. It served as France's primary national flag carrier for seven decades prior to its 2003 merger with KLM.

Between April 2001 and March 2002, the airline carried 43.3 million passengers and had a total revenue of 12.53bn. In November 2004, Air France ranked as the largest European airline with 25.5% total market share, and was the largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenue.

Air France operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing widebody jets on long-haul routes, and uses Airbus A320 family aircraft on short-haul routes. Air France introduced the A380 on 20 November 2009 with service to New York City's JFK Airport from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport. The carrier's regional airline subsidiary, HOP!, operates the majority of its regional domestic and European scheduled services with a fleet of regional jet aircraft.[6]


Formation and early years

The inauguration of the Aérogare des Invalides on 21 August 1951

Air France was formed on 7 October 1933, from a merger of Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA) and Société Générale des Transports Aériens (SGTA). Of these airlines, SGTA was the first commercial airline company in France, having been founded as Lignes Aériennes Farman in 1919. The constituent members of Air France had already built extensive networks across Europe, to French colonies in North Africa and farther afield. During World War II, Air France moved its operations to Casablanca (Morocco).

In 1936, Air France added French-built twin engine Potez 62 aircraft to its fleet featuring a two compartment cabin that could accommodate 14 to 16 passengers. A high wing monoplane, it had a wooden fuselage with composite coating while the wings were fabric covered with a metal leading edge. Equipped with Hispano-Suiza V-engines, they were used on routes in Europe, South America and the Far East. Although cruising at only 175 miles per hour, the Potez 62 was a robust and reliable workhorse for Air France and remained in service until the Second World War with one used by the Free French Air Force.[7]

1936 Air France ad for service using Potez 62 twin-engine aircraft.
Air France Douglas DC-3 at Manchester Airport in 1952

On 26 June 1945 all of France's air transport companies were nationalised.[8] On 29 December 1945, a decree of the French Government granted Air France the management of the entire French air transport network.[9] Air France appointed its first flight attendants in 1946. The same year the airline opened its first air terminal at Les Invalides in central Paris. It was linked to Paris Le Bourget Airport, Air France's first operations and engineering base, by coach. At that time the network covered 160,000 km, claimed to be the longest in the world.[10] Société Nationale Air France was set up on 1 January 1946.

European schedules were initially operated by a fleet of Douglas DC-3 aircraft. On 1 July 1946, Air France started direct flights between Paris and New York via refuelling stops at Shannon and Gander. Douglas DC-4 piston-engine airliners covered the route in just under 20 hours.[10] In September 1947 Air France's network stretched east from New York, Fort de France and Buenos Aires to Shanghai.

Lockheed Super Constellation of Air France at London (Heathrow) Airport in April 1955

By 1948 Air France operated 130 aircraft, one of the largest fleets in the world.[10] Between 1947 and 1965 the airline operated Lockheed Constellations on passenger and cargo services worldwide.[11] In 1946 and 1948, respectively, the French government authorised the creation of two private airlines: Transports Aériens Internationaux – later Transports Aériens Intercontinentaux – (TAI) and SATI. In 1949 the latter became part of Union Aéromaritime de Transport (UAT), a private French international airline.[10][12]

Compagnie Nationale Air France was created by act of parliament on 16 June 1948. Initially, the government held 70%. In subsequent years the French state's direct and indirect shareholdings reached almost 100%. In mid-2002 the state held 54%.[10][13]

On 4 August 1948 Max Hymans was appointed president. During his 13-year tenure he would implement modernisation practices centred on the introduction of jet aircraft. In 1949 the company became a co-founder of Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), an airline telecommunications services company.[10]

Jet age re-organisation

Passengers disembarking from a Sud-Est SE-161

In 1952 Air France moved its operations and engineering base to the new Paris Orly Airport South terminal. By then the network covered 250,000 km.[10] Air France entered the jet age in 1953 with the original, short-lived de Havilland Comet series 1, the world's first jetliner.

During the mid-1950s it also operated the Vickers Viscount turboprop, with twelve entering service between May 1953 and August 1954 on the European routes. On 26 September 1953 the government instructed Air France to share long-distance routes with new private airlines. This was followed by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's imposition of an accord on Air France, Aigle Azur, TAI and UAT, under which some routes to Africa, Asia and the Pacific region were transferred to private carriers.[10]

On 23 February 1960 the Ministry of Public Works and Transport transferred Air France's domestic monopoly to Air Inter. To compensate for the loss of its domestic network Air France was given a stake in Air Inter. The following day Air France was instructed to share African routes with Air Afrique and UAT.[10][13]

The airline started uninterrupted jet operations in 1960 with the Sud Aviation Caravelle and the Boeing 707;[10] jet airliners cut travel times in half and improved comfort.[10] Air France later became an early Boeing 747 operator and eventually had one of the world's largest 747 fleets.

Air France Caravelle jetliner in 1977

On 1 February 1963 the government formalised division of routes between Air France and its private sector rivals. Air France was to withdraw services to West Africa (except Senegal), Central Africa (except Burundi and Rwanda), Southern Africa (including South Africa), Libya in North Africa, Bahrain and Oman in the Middle East, Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) in South Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand as well as New Caledonia and Tahiti. These routes were allocated to the new Union de Transports Aériens (UTA), a new private airline resulting from the merger of TAI and UAT. UTA also got exclusive rights between Japan, New Caledonia and New Zealand, South Africa and Réunion island in the Indian Ocean, as well as Los Angeles and Tahiti.[10][13][14]

From 1974, Air France began shifting the bulk of operations to the new Charles de Gaulle Airport north of Paris. By the early 1980s, only Corsica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, most services to French Guyana, Réunion, the Maghreb region, Eastern Europe (except the USSR), Southern Europe (except Greece and Italy), and one daily service to New York (JFK) remained at Orly. In 1974, Air France also became the world's first operator of the Airbus A300 twin-engine widebody plane, Airbus Industrie's first commercial airliner for which it was a launch customer.[15]

Concorde service and rivalry

Air France Concorde at CDG Airport in 2003

On 21 January 1976, Air France operated its inaugural supersonic transport (SST) service on the Paris (Charles de Gaulle) to Rio (via Dakar) route with Anglo-French BAC-Aérospatiale Concorde F-BVFA. Supersonic services from Paris (CDG) to Washington Dulles International Airport began on 24 May 1976, also with F-BVFA. Service to New York (JFK) – the only remaining Concorde service until its end – commenced on 22 November 1977. Paris to New York was flown in 3 hours 23 minutes, at about twice the speed of sound. Approval for flights to the United States was initially withheld due to noise protests. Eventually, services to Mexico City via Washington, D.C. were started. Air France became one of only two airlines – British Airways being the other – to regularly operate supersonic services, and continued daily transatlantic Concorde service until late May 2003.[16]

By 1983, Air France's golden jubilee, the workforce numbered more than 34,000, its fleet about 100 jet aircraft (including 33 Boeing 747s) and its 634,400 km network served 150 destinations in 73 countries. This made Air France the fourth-largest scheduled passenger airline in the world, as well as the second-largest scheduled freight carrier.[10] Air France also codeshared with regional French airlines, TAT being the most prominent. TAT would later operate several regional international routes on behalf of Air France.[17] In 1983 Air France began passenger flights to South Korea, being the first European airline to do so.[18]

In 1986 the government relaxed its policy of dividing traffic rights for scheduled services between Air France, Air Inter and UTA, without route overlaps between them. The decision opened some of Air France's most lucrative routes on which it had enjoyed a government-sanctioned monopoly since 1963 and which were within its exclusive sphere of influence, to rival airlines, notably UTA. The changes enabled UTA to launch scheduled services to new destinations within Air France's sphere, in competition with that airline.

Air France operated 33 Boeing 747s by 1983. Here, a 747-100 is seen at CDG Airport in 1978.

Paris-San Francisco became the first route UTA served in competition with Air France non-stop from Paris. Air France responded by extending some non-stop Paris-Los Angeles services to Papeete, Tahiti, which competed with UTA on Los Angeles-Papeete. UTA's ability to secure traffic rights outside its traditional sphere in competition with Air France was the result of a campaign to lobby the government to enable it to grow faster, becoming more dynamic and more profitable. This infuriated Air France.[19]

In 1987 Air France together with Lufthansa, Iberia and SAS founded Amadeus, an IT company (also known as a GDS) that would enable travel agencies to sell the founders and other airlines' products from a single system.

In 1988, Air France was a launch customer for the fly-by-wire (FBW) A320 narrowbody twin, along with Air Inter and British Caledonian. It became the first airline to take delivery of the A320 in March 1988, and along with Air Inter became the first airlines to introduce Airbus A320 service on short-haul routes.[20]

Acquisitions and privatisation

Dassault Mercure of Air Inter which became part of Air France in 1990

On 12 January 1990, the operations of government-owned Air France, semi-public Air Inter and wholly private Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) were merged into an enlarged Air France.[10] Air France's acquisition of UTA and Air Inter was part of an early 1990s government plan to create a unified, national air carrier with the economies of scale and global reach to counter potential threats from the liberalisation of the EU's internal air transport market.[21]

On 25 July 1994, a new holding company, Groupe Air France, was set up by decree. Groupe Air France became operational on 1 September 1994. It acquired the Air France group's majority shareholdings in Air France and Air Inter (subsequently renamed Air Inter Europe). On 31 August 1994, Stephen Wolf, a former United Airlines CEO, was appointed adviser to the Air France group's chairman Christian Blanc. Wolf was credited with the introduction of Air France's hub and spoke operation at Paris Charles de Gaulle. (Wolf resigned in 1996 to take over as CEO at US Airways.)[22][23]

In 1997, Air France Europe was absorbed into Air France. On 19 February 1999, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Plural Left government approved Air France's partial privatisation. Its shares were listed on the Paris stock exchange on 22 February 1999. In June 1999, Air France and Delta Air Lines formed a bilateral transatlantic partnership. On 22 June 2000, this expanded into the SkyTeam global airline alliance.[3][10]

Air France-KLM merger

The merger of Air France and KLM occurred in 2004

On 30 September 2003, Air France and Netherlands-based KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced the merger of the two airlines, the new company to be known as Air France-KLM. The merger became reality on 5 May 2004. At that point former Air France shareholders owned 81% of the new firm (44% owned by the French state, 37% by private shareholders), former KLM shareholders the rest. The decision of the Jean-Pierre Raffarin government to reduce the French state's shareholding in the former Air France group from 54.4% to 44% of the newly created Air France-KLM Group effectively privatised the new airline. In December 2004 the state sold 18.4% of its equity in Air France-KLM. The state's shareholding in Air France-KLM subsequently fell to just under 20%.[3]

Air France-KLM became the largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenues, and third-largest (largest in Europe) in passenger kilometres.[3] Although owned by a single company, Air France and KLM continued to fly under their own brand names. Air France-KLM remained part of the SkyTeam alliance, which then included Aeroflot, Delta Air Lines, Aeroméxico, Korean Air, Czech Airlines, Alitalia, Northwest Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air Europa, Continental Airlines, and Saudi Arabian Airlines. As of March 2004, Air France employed 71,654 people.[24] As of March 2007, the airline employed 102,422 personnel.[3]

Open Skies venture

On 17 October 2007, the creation of a profit and revenue-sharing transatlantic joint venture between Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines was announced during a press conference at Air France-KLM's headquarters. The venture became effective on 29 March 2008. It aimed to exploit transatlantic opportunities to capture a major share of long-haul business traffic from London Heathrow Airport, which opened to unrestricted competition on that day as a result of the "Open Skies" pact between the EU and US. It was envisaged that Air France and Delta would begin nine daily round trips between London-Heathrow and destinations in the USA, including a daily London (Heathrow) to Los Angeles service by Air France. Once the new Air France-Delta venture received antitrust immunity, it was to be extended to the other two transatlantic SkyTeam partners, enabling all four partners to codeshare flights as well as to share revenue and profit.[25][26] The new transatlantic joint venture marks the Air France-KLM Group's second major expansion in the London market, following the launch of CityJet-operated short-haul services from London City Airport that have been aimed at business travellers in the City's financial services industry.[25] However, the daily London (Heathrow) to Los Angeles service was not as successful as hoped, and was discontinued in November 2008.[27]


On 12 January 2012, Air France-KLM announced their three-year transformation plan, called Transform 2015, to restore profitability. This plan works by restoring competitiveness through cost-cutting, restructuring the short- and medium-haul operations and rapidly reducing debt. The main objective of this plan is to turn Air France-KLM back into a world player by 2015. Air France has been losing 700 million euros a year. As the financial results of recent quarters demonstrate, the long-haul operations, also subject to increasing competition, cannot alone offset these losses. On 22 February 2012, Air France released their plan for summer schedule. Because of the uncertain economic environment, Air France-KLM has set a limit of 1.4% maximum increase in capacity from 25 March 2012 – 28 October 2012.

On 21 June 2012, Air France-KLM had announced its decision to cut just under 10% of the total 53,000 workforce (about 5,000 jobs) by the end of next year in an attempt to restore profitability by 1,700 jobs natural turnover and the rest by voluntary redundancies, so hopefully no compulsory redundancies.[28] As of August 2012, the Transform 2015 plan was accepted by ground staff and pilot unions but rejected by cabin crew unions.[29]

At the beginning of July 2012, it was announced that Air France-KLM found partners for the new African start-up airline Air Cemac, which was co-founded by six countries in Central Africa to replace the former Air Afrique. But several problems and two partners, who decided to back out, delayed the implementation of the project. Following its launch, Air Cemac announced it would commence operations in 2013.[30]

In September 2013, Air France introduced a brand new Economy product along with an improved Premium Economy seat and service. It is expected that the new improvements would be fitted on aircraft from June 2014 onwards.[31] In October 2013, Air France-KLM announced they were writing off the 25% stake in Alitalia, as it was hesitant the struggling carrier would obtain the 300 million euros in financing. The group has denied Alitalia of additional funds as it is currently struggling to restructure itself to profitability with the Transform 2015 plan.[32]

In December 2013, Air France announced that Cityjet no longer meets the short haul needs of the group and is in the process of closing a deal with German firm Intro Aviation by the end of Q1 of 2014.[33]

In 2014, the airline was targeted by a negative publicity campaign, spearheaded by PETA, for being the only major airline that permits the transport of primates for research.[34][35][36][37]

On 4 February 2014, the new business product was unveiled, featuring a fully flat bed from Zodiac Aerospace. The seat will be fitted on Boeing 777 aircraft from June 2014 onwards.[38] In September 2014, Air France announced it would sell a 3 percent stake in travel technology company Amadeus IT Group for $438 million.[39]

Late in 2015, Air France faced a financial crisis, which was exacerbated by a pilot's strike against the airline. The airline answered the strike by announcing it would cut some 2,900 jobs.[40] In December 2015, Air France announced to retire their last Boeing 747-400 with a special scenic flight on 14 January 2016. The airline operated the 747 in several variants since 1970.[41]

Corporate affairs and identity

Head office

Head office of Air France in Roissypôle, Charles de Gaulle Airport, Tremblay-en-France

Air France's head office is located in the Roissypôle complex on the grounds of Charles de Gaulle Airport and in the commune of Tremblay-en-France, Seine-Saint-Denis, near the city of Paris.[42][43][44][45][46] Wil S. Hylton of The New York Times described the facility as "a huge white box that squats near the runways at Charles de Gaulle Airport."[47]

The 130,000 square metres (1,400,000 sq ft) complex was completed in December 1995. The French firm Groupement d'Etudes et de Méthodes d'Ordonnancement (GEMO) managed the project. The architect was Valode & Pistre and the design consultants were Sechaud-Boyssut and Trouvin. The project cost 137,000,000 euros[44] (less than 700 million francs[48]). The runways of the airport are visible from the building.[49] The Air France Operations Control Centre (OCC, French: Centre de Contrôle des Opérations, CCO), which coordinates Air France flights worldwide, is situated at the AF head office.[50][51]

Former head office, Square Max Hymans

For about 30 years prior to December 1995, Air France's headquarters were located in a tower adjacent to the Gare Montparnasse rail station in the Montparnasse area and the 15th arrondissement of Paris.[52] By 1991 two bids for the purchase of the Square Max Hymans building had been made.[53] By 1992 the complex was sold to Mutuelle générale de l'Éducation nationale (MGEN) for 1.6 billion francs.[54] By that year Air France had planned to move its head office to Roissypôle,[55] taking 50,000 square metres (540,000 sq ft) of space inside the hotel, office, and shopping complex on the grounds of Charles de Gaulle Airport.[56] After Air France moved to Tremblay-en-France, the ownership of the former head office complex was transferred.[57]

On a previous occasion the head office was at 2 rue marbeuf in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.[58]

Foreign offices

Air France's United States offices are in the 125 West 55th Street building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.[59] Air France first signed a lease to occupy the building in 1991.[60] The site also formerly housed the New York City city ticket office for Air France.

Air France-KLM's head office for United Kingdom and Ireland operations, which includes facilities for Air France and KLM, is located in Plesman House in Hatton Cross. The facility's inauguration was on 6 July 2006. Air France moved the office from Hounslow to Hatton.[61]

Web presence

Air France maintains a substantial web presence in many languages using multinational domain names.

Crew base

Air France Cité PN, located at Charles de Gaulle Airport, acts as the airline's crew base. The building, developed by Valode & Pistre, opened in February 2006. The first phase consisted of 33,400 square metres (360,000 sq ft) of space and 4,300 parking spaces. The building is connected to the Air France head office.[62]

Vaccination centre

Air France operates the Air France Vaccinations Centre in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.[63][64] The centre distributes vaccines for international travel. Since 2001 the centre was the only French vaccination centre certified International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001.[65] In 2005 the centre moved from the Aérogare des Invalides to its current location.[66]

Aérogare des Invalides, 7th arrondissement, Paris

Aérogare des Invalides

The Aérogare des Invalides in the 7th arrondissement of Paris houses the Agence Air France Invalides and the Air France Museum.[67][68] Until 2005 the building hosted the Air France Vaccinations Centre.[66] On 28 August 1959 Air France opened a ticket and information agency in the former air terminal in Invalides, targeting transit passengers and customers from offices and companies in the Invalides area.[69]

Subsidiaries and franchises

Air France regional jet operated by Brit Air, now HOP!

The subsidiaries of Air France include:[70]

  • Air France Consulting
  • BlueLink
  • CityJet
  • HOP!
  • Servair
  • Société de construction et de réparation de matériel aéronautique (CRMA)
  • Sodexi

Air France and Dutch affiliate Transavia formed Transavia France, a low-cost joint venture in May 2007, based at Orly Airport.[72]

Air Corsica, CityJet and HOP! all operate flights on behalf of Air France, either as subsidiaries or as franchisees.

Air France Asie and Air France Cargo Asie

Air France Cargo Asie Boeing 747-200F

Owing to the disputed status of Taiwan, Air France could not operate flights to the island under its own name. In 1993, its subsidiary, Air Charter, began operating flights between Paris and Taipei via Hong Kong,[73] but after Air Charter ceased operations in 1998, a subsidiary called Air France Asie was established.[74] The airline was one of a number of airline subsidiaries flying under the "Asia" name with the purpose of flying to Taiwan, which included Japan Asia Airways (a Japan Airlines subsidiary), KLM Asia, British Asia Airways, Swissair Asia, and Australia Asia Airlines (a Qantas subsidiary).

The livery of Air France Asie differed from that of Air France by having a design in blue and white on tailfin, rather than one in blue, white and red, representing the French Tricolour. Air France Asie used two Airbus A340-200 aircraft, F-GLZD and F-GLZE, and two Boeing 747-428Ms, F-GISA and F-GISC. Similarly, Air France Cargo Asie used a 747-200 Combi (for passengers and freight), F-GCBH) or the all-cargo (F-GCBL, F-GPAN and F-GBOX). Air France Asie ceased operations in 2004 while Air France Cargo Asie ceased operations in 2007.


In 2010 Air France migrated from an internally managed Passenger service system (Alpha3) that manages reservation, inventory and pricing to an external system (Altéa) managed by Amadeus. In rail ventures, Air France and Veolia are looking into jointly operating high-speed rail services in Europe. Routes have become available to operators in accordance with European rail liberalisation on 1 January 2010.[75]


Boeing 777-200ER with Air France's Eurowhite 1970s–2008 livery
Air France Boeing 777-300ER in the new livery landing at Montreal-Trudeau.

Air France's present livery is a "Eurowhite" scheme, comprising a white fuselage with the blue Air France title and design. The tail is white with a series of parallel red and blue lines across the it at an angle, and a small European flag at the top. This livery has been in use since the late 1970s. Prior to the "Eurowhite" livery, Air France aircraft had a bare-metal underside, extending up to a blue cheat-line that ran across the cabin windows. Above the cheat-line the fuselage was again white, with Air France titles and a French flag. The tail was white with two thick blue lines, which tapered from the rear of the tail and met at point towards the front bottom. This basic livery, with minor variations, would appear on all post-war Air France aircraft until the late 1970s.

On January 2009, to coincide with Air France's new logo, a new livery was unveiled.[76] Air France rolled out their new livery on 11 February 2009. The 2009 livery saw the tail slightly changed; there are now 3 blue bars running down instead of 4 previously. The bars also now curve at the bottom, reflecting the design of the logo.


The new official song played before and after Air France flights (during boarding and after landing) is 'The World Can Be Yours' by Telepopmusik. Air France has used different popular music groups for its marketing and on-board ambience, ranging from The Chemical Brothers in 1999 to Telepopmusik in 2010.[77]

Air France launched a new ad campaign in 2015 designed by BETC and directed by We Are From LA, focusing on French culture. Along with the ad campaign and print ads, Air France also introduced a similarly themed safety video. The music is a customised version of Glass Candy's song Warm in the Winter.[78]


Air France uniforms denote the ranks for the flight attendants. Two silver sleeve stripes denote a Chief Purser. One silver sleeve stripe denote a Purser. Flight attendants do not have any sleeve stripes. The female cabin crew uniforms feature the stripes on the breast pocket rather than the sleeve for their male counterparts. Air France's current uniforms were created by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix.[79]


Upon its formation, Air France adopted the seahorse logo of its predecessor Air Orient, known as the hippocampe ailé (sometimes derisively called "la crevette" – or shrimp – by its employees), as its insignia.[80][81] Prior to the Air France-KLM merger, the hippocampe ailé was used on the nose section of aircraft next to the Groupe Air France title; after the merger, the Air France-KLM logo was substituted at the nose area, and the hippocampe ailé was relocated to engine nacelles. The acronym "AF" has also featured prominently on the airline's flag and its signage. On 7 January 2009, Air France officially changed its logo to a red stripe.


Air France destinations as of 2015, Cambodia, Malaysia and Kuwait are no longer served
An Air France Boeing 777-300ER specially painted in SkyTeam livery to commemorate the airline's membership

Air France is a full service global airline as of 2011 Air France flies to 36 domestic destinations and 168 international destinations in 93 countries (including Overseas departments and territories of France) across 6 major continents. This includes Air France Cargo services and those destinations served by franchisees Air Corsica, CityJet and HOP!.

Most of Air France's international flights operate from Paris-Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. Air France also has a strong presence at Paris-Orly, Lyon-Saint-Exupéry, Marseilles Provence, Toulouse Blagnac, Nice Côte d'Azur and Bordeaux-Merignac airports as part of the Air France-KLM regional offensive that allows the airports to become important airports in Europe. As Air France becomes more a strategic partner with Delta Air Lines and Alitalia through the SkyTeam alliance and through a substantial joint venture, new routes and code-share agreements are developing rapidly.

Hub information

Codeshare agreements

Air France codeshares with the following airlines:[82]


Current fleet

Now retired Boeing 747-400

As of April 2016, Air France fleet consists in the following aircraft with an average age of 11.7 years.[83]

Air France Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F J W Y Total
Airbus A318-100 18 26 86 112 Largest operator.
Airbus A319-100 40 28 115 143 2 leased to Air Côte d'Ivoire.
142 142
Airbus A320-200 46 2 26 139 165 2 operated for Transavia France, 1 leased to Air Corsica.
15 150 165
30 135 165
178 178
Airbus A321-100 5 212 212 Former Air Inter fleet
Airbus A321-200 18 212 212
32 168 200
Airbus A330-200 15 40 21 147 208 New interior by 2016.
Airbus A340-300 10 30 21 224 275 To be phased out between 2016-2019
Airbus A350-900 28
Entering service in 2017.
Airbus A380-800 10 9 80 38 389 516 New interior between 2019 & 2020[84]
Boeing 777-200ER 25 35 24 250 309 To be reconfigured to 40/24/216 by 2016.
40 24 216 280
Boeing 777-300ER 43 14 32 422 468 Launch customer.
42 24 315 381
4 58 28 206 296
Boeing 787-9 1 13 30 21 225 276 Entering service January 2017[85]
Air France Cargo Fleet
Boeing 777F 2
Total 236 43


Airbus A380

Air France signed as a launch customer for the Airbus A380-800 "superjumbo" in 2001.[92] Air France had ordered 12 Airbus A380-800 aircraft, with options on a further two. Air France was the first airline in Europe to be operating the A380 with Lufthansa following in June 2010. The first A380 was delivered on 30 October 2009, and the Paris to New York route was used as the first route. All of Air France's Airbus A380s depart from their international hub at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Terminal 2E (Main Terminal, Satellites 3 and 4).

Anniversary jet

On 14 November 2008, Air France released the first picture[93] of an Airbus A320 with registration F-GFKJ that has been repainted in the full 1946 paint scheme[94] to celebrate the airline's 75 years anniversary. This heritage aircraft was planned to fly under the special colours until early 2010.[95] Since November 2013 the aircraft has been held in storage[96]

Fleet history

Over the years, Air France has operated the following aircraft types:[97]

Air France historical fleet
Aircraft Introduced Retired
Airbus A300 1974 1998
Airbus A310 1984 2002
Airbus A318 2003
Airbus A319 1997
Airbus A320-100 1988 2010
Airbus A320-200 1989
Airbus A321 1997
Airbus A330-200 2001
Airbus A340-200 1993 1999
Airbus A340-300 1993
Airbus A380-800 2009
Boeing 707–328 Intercontinental[98] 1959 1979
Boeing 707-328B[98] 1960 1982
Boeing 707-328C[98] 1960 1984
Boeing 727-200[99] 1968 1993
Boeing 737-200 1982 2002
Boeing 737-300 1991 2004
Boeing 737-500 1990 2007
Boeing 747-100 1970 2008
Boeing 747-200B 1977 2005
Boeing 747-200F 1974 2003
Boeing 747-300 1991 2007
Boeing 747-400 1991 2016
Historical fleet (continued)
Aircraft Introduced Retired
Boeing 747-400BCF 2009 2011
Boeing 747-400ERF 2002 2015
Boeing 767-200[100] 1991 1992
Boeing 767-300ER 1991 2003
Boeing 777-200ER 1998
Boeing 777F 2009
Boeing 777-300ER 2004
Breguet 763[101] 1949 1971
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde 1976 2003
Douglas DC-3[102] 1946 1962
Douglas DC-4[103] 1946 1971
Douglas DC-6[104] 1949 1968
Fokker F27[105] 1967 1997
Fokker 100 1997 1999
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 1989 1991
Lockheed L-749 Constellation[106] 1947 1961
Lockheed L-1049G S. Constellation[107] 1953 1968
Lockheed L-1649A Starliner[108] 1957 1963
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 1992 1995
SNCASE Languedoc[109] 1945 1952
Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle[110] 1959 1981
Vickers Viscount 700[111] 1953 1968


Aerial view of Air France Concorde F-BVFA at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia

The five Air France Concordes were retired on 31 May 2003, as a result of insufficient demand following the 25 July 2000 crash of AF Concorde F-BTSC, at Gonesse (near Charles de Gaulle Airport), as well as higher fuel and maintenance costs. British Airways flew its last Concorde service on 24 October 2003. Concorde F-BVFA was transferred to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport. F-BVFB was given to the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum in Germany, F-BTSD to the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace at Le Bourget Airport in Paris, while F-BVFC returned to its place of manufacture in Toulouse, at the Airbus factory. F-BVFF is the only example to remain at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Boeing 747

On 11 and 14 January 2016, Air France finally retired its last Boeing 747-400, the airline had operated 747-series aircraft since 3 June 1970. They were replaced by A380s and 777s.[112][113]


La Première seats on a Boeing 777

Air France offers a mix of three and four cabin configurations for international long haul routes, featuring La Première (select aircraft), Business, Premium Economy and Economy. Personal screens with audio video on demand is available in all cabins on all long-haul aircraft. European short-haul and medium-haul flights feature a three cabin configuration with Business, Premium Economy, and Economy.

La Première

La Première, Air France's long-haul first class product, is available on the Airbus A380-800 along with select Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200ER aircraft.[114] The Première cabin features wood and leather seats which recline 180°, forming two-metre long beds. Each seat features a 10.4" touchscreen personal screen with interactive gaming and audio video on demand, a privacy divider, automassage feature, reading light, storage drawer, noise-cancelling headphones, personal telephone, and laptop power ports. Each passenger is also provided with a personalised coat service, pure merino wool blanket, a "boudoir-style" cushion, and a travel kit featuring Biologique Recherche facial and body care products to moisturize and refresh the skin. Turndown service includes a mattress, a duvet, hypoallergenic feather pillow, sleepwear, a dust bag for shoes, and a pair of slippers[115] À la carte on-demand meal services feature entrées created by Chef Guy Martin. Private lounge access is offered worldwide featuring a chauffeured car to the aircraft. La Première is not available on the Airbus A330-200, Airbus A340-300, Boeing 747-400, and select Boeing 777-200ER & 777-300ER aircraft where Business is the highest cabin class. Four-class 777-200ER and 777-300ER configurations are equipped with four and eight La Première seats respectively, while the Airbus A380 feature 9 La Première seats. Air France will unveil the revised La Premiere in June 2014 on the Boeing 777 along with the new Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.[114]


Business, Air France's long-haul business class product, is available on all long haul aircraft. Business features angled lie-flat seats which recline to two metres in length. Each seat includes a 10.4" touchscreen TV monitor with interactive gaming and AVOD, reading light, personal telephone, and laptop power ports. Meal service features three-course meals and a cheese service, or an express menu served shortly after takeoff.

Air France has released a brand new business class product, the seat is a Zodiac Aerospace Cirrus and is designed by Mark Collins of Design Investment, specialized in the world of high-end transportation and by the design and branding agency, Brandimage. The new seat would be installed on the Boeing 777 aircraft from June 2014 until summer 2016, all other aircraft types would then be retrofitted. A total of 2,102 seats would be installed. The new cabin features a 1-2-1 layout as opposed to the 2-3-2 layout found currently on the 777. The new 16-inch (41 cm) screen offers a unique onboard navigation experience similar to a tablet. With a completely redesigned user interface and available in 12 languages (French, English,Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Arabic), choosing an entertainment program from over 1,000 hours of entertainment. The seat converts into a fully flat bed with 180 degrees recline, it features a touchscreen remote control, USB port, universal electrical outlet, new noise cancelling headphones, privacy screen, an Air France signature padded headboard, ample storage space, adjustable headrest, and a duvet with XXL feather down pillow.[116]

Premium Economy

Premium Economy, is Air France's premium economy product for long haul flights, which became available on the Boeing 777-200ER, 777-300ER, Airbus A340-300 and Airbus A330-200 in late 2009 and early 2010, and on the A380-800 in late 2010 and early 2011. It is a dedicated cabin section with a 2-4-2 (2-3-2 on the long haul Airbus fleet and 3-3-3 for Alize on the 777-300 serving Indian Ocean and Caribbean routes) configuration with 38″ pitch (36″ for long haul Alize seats), 123° reclining fixed shell seats, including an adjustable headrest, a 10.4″ touchscreen, personal reading lamp, universal power ports, and an adjustable leg rest (40% more space, compared to Voyageur seats; the seats are 20% wider and offer 20% more legroom). There are 38 seats on the Airbus A380, 32 on the Boeing 777-300ER, 24 on the Boeing 777-200 and 21 on the Airbus A340-300 & A330-200 (between the Business and Economy cabin; behind Business on the A380 upper deck).[117] Passengers receive double baggage allowance, priority airport services, lounge access, and extra frequent flier mileage. On board, business class amenities include Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones, an amenity kit (featuring socks, eye mask, toothbrush & toothpaste, and earplugs), improved blankets, and an enhanced meal service with second hot meal, candies, and ice-cream all served with real glass and metal cutlery.[118] A new improved Premium Economy seat using the same shell will be introduced from June 2014 on the Boeing 777 aircraft, featuring better cushioning and improved foot rest, adding comfort to the passenger.[31]


Economy cabin on an Airbus A380

Economy, Air France's economy class long haul product, features seats that recline up to 118°. The current long-haul Economy seat, which debuted on the Boeing 777-300ER, includes winged headrests, a personal telephone, and a touchscreen TV monitor with AVOD Interactive Entertainment System which have been installed on all of Air France's long haul fleet. On long haul flights, a menu is presented with a choice of two meals. Short and medium haul Economy services are operated by Airbus A320 family aircraft with different seating arrangements. Air France is one of the few airlines who features winged headrests on short to medium haul aircraft in both classes. On short haul flights a snack is served, while on medium haul flights a three course cold meal is served. Free alcoholic beverages are available on all flights, including champagne. On most aircraft, Air France offers extra legroom seats in economy called Seat Plus. These seats are located in the economy class exit rows and other rows depending on the plane, as well as the economy seats on the 747's upper deck, offering at least 4" more seat pitch(36" versus the usual 32" in standard economy seats), the 747's Seat Plus section also provides an extra half-inch of seat width. Seat Plus prices vary by flight time, but it is free to elites and passengers with a full fare economy ticket.

Air France has introduced a brand new economy long haul product which features a new slimline seat providing up to an inch more legroom, wider table, universal electrical sockets, retractable armrests, winged leather headrests, more storage space, high definition 10-inch screens featuring the latest in flight entertainment with a USB port, a headphones holder, and newly designed pillows featuring different patterns of the Air France logo. The seats would be installed along with the new La Première, Business, and Premium Economy seats from June 2014 till summer 2016 on the Boeing 777 aircraft, the core of the fleet. All other aircraft will be retrofitted except the Airbus A340-300 and Boeing 747-400 as they would be leaving the fleet soon.[119]


In-flight catering

Gourmet appetizer and seasonal salad in Business

For La Première, Air France's first class menu is designed by Guy Martin, chef of Le Grand Vefour, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris.[120] Menu items include hors d'oeuvres, entrées, bread basket, and cheeses, along with a dessert cart including pastries, petit fours, and tartlets.[121] Air France also serves complimentary champagne to passengers in all classes.[122]

In-flight entertainment

Air France offers Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) in all cabins on all long haul aircraft. The in flight entertainment system features multiple channels of video, audio, music, and games. Air France Magazine, the airline's in-flight publication, is included at each seat, and Air France Madame, a fashion luxury magazine with a feminine perspective, is included in La Première and Business cabins and lounges.[123] On all flights, all films may be watched in English, Spanish, and French. Selected films on all flights are also available in Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and Korean. The airline offers Berlitz International language courses via the in-flight entertainment system.[124]

On 29 May 2013, KLM and Air France launched a pilot to test inflight Wi-Fi. Both airlines have equipped one Boeing 777-300ER of each of their fleets with Wi-Fi. Using the inflight Wi-Fi, passengers can stay online using their Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Wireless service will commence once the flight has reached 20,000 feet.[125]

Le Salon

Air France Le Salon La Première

Air France lounges are known as Le Salon, and are open to La Première, Business, and Premium Economy passengers, as well as Flying Blue Gold, Flying Blue Platinum, SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus members. The Air France salon offer a buffet and beverages, international newspapers, free WIFI, computers with internet access, restrooms, shower facilities, and a Clarins Spa. There are four salons at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Le Salon La Première and Le Salon in terminals 2C (arrivals), 2E, 2F, and 2G. Worldwide, there are 530 Air France and Skyteam lounges in 300 international airports on every continent except Antarctica.[126]

Flying Blue

Main article: Flying Blue

Flying Blue, the frequent flyer program of Air France-KLM, awards members points based on miles travelled and class of service. Membership into the program is free. The program is divided into standard (Ivory), Elite (Silver) and Elite Plus (Gold and Platinum) statuses. Ivory is the basic level which is attained upon entry into the program. Elite status is attained by accruing a certain number of miles within one calendar year. Elite Silver, Elite Plus Gold, and Elite Plus Platinum cards have added benefits. An invitation-only card called Club 2000 is attributed to some VIPs, celebrities and politicians.[127] Officially, it provides the same benefits as Platinum status but numerous sources confirm it almost guarantees upgrade to Business or La Première.[128] Flying Blue succeeded Air France's previous frequent flyer program, Fréquence Plus, which operated until the Air France-KLM merger in 2003.[129]

  • Ivory – Permanent status; accrues mileage on AF, KLM, and qualifying flights.
  • Silver (Elite)[130] – 25,000 or more miles, or 15 or more segments.
  • Gold (Elite (Plus)) – 40,000 or more miles travelled, or 30 or more level segments.
  • Platinum (Elite Plus) – 70,000 or more miles travelled, or 60 or more level segments.

For French and Monegasque residents, Elite thresholds are higher, at 30,000, 60,000, and 90,000 miles respectively.[130]

In popular culture

Incidents and accidents

See also


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Further reading

External links

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