Air France, the survivor

6 Oct 2008

Air France turns 75 today, a survivor of the aviation industry’s ups and downs, World War II, various periods of expansion and restructuring, and thanks to a merger with KLM in 2004, became the largest airline in the world due to operating revenues and the third largest in Europe in terms of passenger kilometres.

To mark the occasion, Air France is offering  passenger promotions in various markets and launched two books, one on its history (in French only) and the other on recipes, which have been realised in l’Espace Premiere menu meals.

Life for the carrier started from a consolidation on October 7, 1933 of Air Orient, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA) – the first commercial airline company in France founded as Lignes Aériennes Farman in 1919 – Air Union and Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA). Individually, these companies had already built extensive networks across Europe, to French colonies in North Africa and beyond.

Over time, Air France has come to embody the image of an innovative, groundbreaking company, able to adapt and weather the changing landscape of air transport. Fleetwise, it has been known to have set the example for other airlines, incorporating the Caravelle and Boeing B707 in the 1960s and the Boeing B747 in 1970 into its operations.

Air France’s Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub, launched in the 1990s, helped streamline its network and products to overcome a tough business environment at the time.

As a result of the “Open Skies” pact between the EU and US, a transatlantic joint-venture between Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines went into effect last March, aiming to capture a major share of long-haul business traffic from London’s Heathrow Airport.

Nearer home, the airline recently presided over the debut of the new Terminal 2G at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, which locates the operations of regional subsidiaries Brit Air, City Jet and Régional under one roof, thus supporting its business between France and the EU.

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Margie T Logarta

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