Air France

Air France
Air France
Société Air France
Founded 1933
Hubs *Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Frequent-flyer program Flying Blue
Airport lounge
  • Première Lounge
  • Departures Lounge
  • Arrivals Lounge
  • Salon Air France
  • SkyTeam Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 253 (+ 33 orders) incl.cargo
Destinations 254 incl.subsidiaries
Company slogan "Making the sky the best place on Earth" ("Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre")
Parent company Air France-KLM
Headquarters Roissypôle
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
Tremblay-en-France, France
Key people
  • Alexandre de Juniac (Chairman and CEO)[1]
  • Philippe Calavia (CFO)

Air France (formally Société Air France SA), stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, (north of Paris), and is one of the world's largest airlines. It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. As of 2010 Air France serves 32 destinations in France and operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to 154 destinations in 91 countries (including Overseas departments and territories of France) and also carried 71.3 million passengers. The airline's global hub is at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, with Paris Orly Airport, Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, and Nice Côte d'Azur Airport serving as secondary hubs.[2] Air France's corporate headquarters, previously in Montparnasse, Paris,[3] are located on the grounds of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris.[4]

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). In 1990, the airline acquired the operations of French domestic carrier Air Inter and international rival UTA – Union des Transports Aériens. Air France 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 widebodied 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's JFK Airport from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport. The carrier's regional airline subsidiary, Régional, operates the majority of its regional domestic and European scheduled services with a fleet of regional jet and turboprop aircraft.[5]


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 de Transport Aérien (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).

On 26 June 1945, all of France's air transport companies were nationalised.[6] On 29 December 1945, a decree of the French government granted Air France the management of the entire French air transport network.[7] 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.[8] Société Nationale Air France was set up on 1 January 1946.

Air France SE-161 Languedoc in Tunisia in 1952

On 1 July 1946, Air France inaugurated direct scheduled service between Paris and New York via refuelling stops at Shannon and Gander. Douglas DC-4 piston-engined airliners covered the route in just under 20 hours.[8] By 1948 Air France operated one of the largest fleets in the world, numbering 130 aircraft.[8] Between 1947 and 1965, the airline operated a large fleet of Lockheed Constellations on passenger and cargo services worldwide.[9] In 1946 and 1948, respectively, the French government further 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.[8][10]

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

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%.[8][11]

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.[8]

Jet age reorganisation

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 that time, the network had further expanded, covering 250,000 km.[8] 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 was also a major operator of the Vickers Viscount turboprop, with twelve examples entering service between May 1953 and August 1954, serving 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.[8]

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 further instructed to share African routes with Air Afrique and UAT.[8][11]

The airline started uninterrupted pure jet operations in 1960 with the Sud Aviation Caravelle and the Boeing 707.[8] The incorporation of jet airliners into Air France's route network cut travel times in half and improved passenger comfort.[8] Air France later became an early Boeing 747 operator, and eventually operated 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 (with the exception of 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 des Transports Aériens (UTA), a new private airline that was the result of a merger between TAI and UAT. UTA also obtained 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.[8][11][12]

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-engined widebodied plane, Airbus Industrie's first commercial airliner for which it was a launch customer.[13]

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.[14]

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

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.[8] 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.[15] In 1983 Air France began passenger flights to South Korea, being the first European airline to do so.[16]

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.

An Air France Airbus A300 seen at the Farnborough Airshow in 1974.

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.[17]

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.[18]

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 des Transports Aériens (UTA) were merged into an enlarged Air France.[8] 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.[19]

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 France 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.)[20][21]

In 1997, Air France Europe was absorbed into Air France. On 19 February 1999, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Plural Left government approved the 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.[2][8]

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%.[2]

Air France operations at Charles de Gaulle airport in 2006

Air France-KLM became the largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenues, and third-largest (largest in Europe) in passenger kilometres.[2] 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 and Continental Airlines. As of March 2004, Air France employed 71,654 people.[22] As of March 2007, the airline employed 102,422 personnel.[2]

According to Air France-KLM, the company's principal activities became:

  • Passenger transport: first European airline with 25.5% of market share (November 2004) and largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenue.
  • Freight transport: largest company for international freight transportation without integration. With integration, Air France-KLM is third worldwide behind FedEx Express and UPS Airlines.
  • Airplane maintenance and repair: largest multi-services operator.

Open skies venture

Air France added the first Boeing 777-300ER to its fleet in 2004

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 USA. It was envisaged that Air France and Delta, as well as fellow SkyTeam members Continental and Northwest, 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.[23][24]

Air France added the first Airbus A380 to its fleet in 2009

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.[23] However, the daily London (Heathrow) to Los Angeles service was not as successful as hoped, and was discontinued in November 2008.[25]

Recent developments

External videos
A film promoting the airline's first A380 flight to Tokyo (the film is in French with English subtitles)

On 13 January 2009, Air France agreed to enter into recently privatised Alitalia's capital share with a 25% stake.[26] This capital investment is coupled with a co-operation agreement on an industrial basis.[26]

In 2010 the company opened its smartphone version of its corporate website.[27]

Corporate affairs and identity

Head office

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

Air France's head office is located in the Roissypôle complex on the grounds of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and in the commune of Tremblay-en-France, Seine-Saint-Denis, near the city of Paris.[28][29][30][31][32] 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."[33]

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[30] (less than 700 million francs[34]). The runways of the airport are visible from the building.[35] 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.[36][37]

The former Air France head office in Montparnasse, Paris

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.[38] By 1991 two bids for the purchase of the Square Max Hymans building had been made.[39] By 1992 the complex was sold to MGEN for 1.6 billion francs.[40] By that year Air France had planned to move its head office to Roissypôle,[41] 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.[42] After Air France moved to Tremblay-en-France, the ownership of the former head office complex was transferred.[43]

125 West 55th Street in Midtown Manhattan, which houses the Air France U.S. headquarters.

Foreign offices

Air France's United States offices are in the 125 West 55th Street building in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.[44] Air France first signed a lease to occupy the building in 1991.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47]

Air France Vaccinations Centre, 7th arrondissement of Paris

Vaccination centre

Air France operates the Air France Vaccinations Centre in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.[48][49] The centre distributes vaccines for international travel. Since 2001 the centre was the only French vaccination centre certified International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001.[50] In 2005 the centre moved from the Aérogare des Invalides to its current location.[51]

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.[52][53] Until 2005 the building hosted the Air France Vaccinations Centre.[51] 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.[54]

Subsidiaries and franchises

In partnership with Dutch affiliate Transavia, Air France has launched France, a new low-cost subsidiary based at Orly airport. Operations began in May 2007 with flights to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean region and North Africa. It is operating four "Next Generation" Boeing 737–800 aircraft. Transavia has a 40% stake, with Air France holding the rest.[55] Airlinair, Brit Air, CityJet, CCM Airlines and Régional all operate flights on behalf of Air France, either as subsidiaries or as franchisees.

Air France regional jet operated by Brit Air

The subsidiaries of Air France include:[56]


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.[58]


Boeing 777-200ER with Air France's Eurowhite 1970s–2008 livery.

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.

Air France Boeing 777-300ER in the new livery landing at Montreal-Trudeau.

In 2008, to coincide with Air France's new logo, a new livery was unveiled.[59] The 2008 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.[60]

Air France travel poster, c. 1940


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.[61]

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.[62][63] 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 2008, Air France officially changed its logo to a red stripe.



An Air France Boeing 777 specially painted in SkyTeam livery to commemorate the airline's membership

Air France is a full service global airline and flies to 32 domestic destinations and 155 international destinations in 91 countries (including Overseas departments and territories of France) across 6 major continents. This includes Air France Cargo services and those destinations served by franchisees Airlinair, Brit Air, CityJet, CCM Airlines and Régional.

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 and Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airports. As Air France becomes more a strategic partner with Delta Air Lines through the SkyTeam alliance and through a substantial joint venture, new routes and code-share agreements are developing rapidly.

Codeshare agreements

In addition to its Brit Air, CityJet and Régional subsidiaries, and its SkyTeam alliance partnership, Air France offers frequent flyer partnerships with approximately two-dozen airlines (as of March 2011).[64]

Air France e-check kiosks


The Air France fleet consists of the following passenger aircraft (as of January 2011).[65][66][67] The Boeing customer code for Air France is -x28. (e.g. A 747–400 that was manufactured for Air France is a 747–428)

Airbus A318.
Airbus A320. (2010)
Concorde at Charles de Gaulle airport.
Air France Passenger & Cargo Fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
F C Y+ Y Total
Airbus A318-100 18 131 131 Largest operator of the Airbus A318
Airbus A319-100 43 142 142
Airbus A320-200 57 13 172 172
Airbus A321-100 5 200 200
Airbus A321-200 18 4 212 212
Airbus A330-200 15 40 21 147 208
40 179 219
Airbus A340-300 18 36 21 204 261
36 236 272
30 21 224 275
30 261 291
Airbus A380-800 6 6 9 80 38 389 516
9 80 449 538
Boeing 747–400 12 40 396 436 2 to be converted for the cargo fleet
17 57 400 474
Boeing 777-200ER 25 4 49 24 170 247
4 49 211 264
35 24 250 309
Boeing 777-300ER 34 12 8 67 28 200 303
8 67 250 325
42 24 317 383
14 36 422 472
Air France Cargo Fleet
Boeing 747-400BCF 3
Boeing 747-400ERF 3
Boeing 777F 4
Total 255 31

The average fleet age of Air France is 9.1 years (as of January 2011, excluding cargo fleet).[68]

1 The front part of the cabin is dedicated to Premium seating, with Premium Affaires (middle seat not used) and Premium Voyageur (additional services, separated from the Voyageur cabin by a curtain). The size of the Premium cabin only depends on the number of seats booked in these classes on the flight.

2 Long-haul business class seats on Airbus A319/LR aircraft are Dedicate service business class seats with 48" seat pitch and 21" seat width. These aircraft are used on Dedicate service routes only.


  • On 24 May 2007, Air France announced it was planning to phase out its 747-400 aircraft by 2010, and placed an order for an additional 13 Boeing 777-300ERs and five Boeing 777F units. The airline also converted options for two more A380-800s into firm orders. This will bring the total of these aircraft for Air France to 33 Boeing 777-300ERs, 10 Boeing 777Fs, and 12 A380-800.[69]
  • On 22 February 2005 Air France ordered a further four Boeing 777-300ERs, adding to 10 previously ordered (four delivered). The airline had previously ordered 18 Boeing 777-200ERs.
  • On 20 May 2005 Air France signed an agreement with Boeing to have three of its former Boeing 747–400 Combi aircraft – currently operated in all-passenger configuration – converted to the Boeing 747-400SF Special Freighter model. The modified aircraft will accelerate the phasing-out of the remaining, aging Boeing 747-200F freighters.[70]
  • Air France has begun the process of removing the Boeing 747-400s from its fleet, in favour of the Boeing 777-300ER. A letter of intent has been signed for 6 747s to be purchased and converted to freighters and it hopes to have completely phased out all 747s by 2013.[71]
  • On 23 May 2005 Air France agreed to buy five 777 Freighters (with three further options), making it the launch customer of the 777 Freighter. Air France took delivery of its first two 777 Freighters during February 2009.[72] Two of the five were later sold to FedEx Express before being delivered.[73]

Airbus A380

Air France signed as a launch customer for the Airbus A380-800 "superjumbo" in 2001.[74] Air France had ordered 12 Airbus A380-800 aircraft, with options on a further two. The first A380 was delivered on 30 October 2009, and the Paris to New York route was used as the first route. Following delivery of the second A380, Air France started using it on the Paris to Johannesburg route from the 17 February 2010. With delivery of the third A380 in April 2010, they increased the frequency of the Johannesburg route to daily.[75] Additionally, between 12 June and 30 August 2010, the carrier scheduled flights between Paris and London using the A380 on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays in July only, to avoid an 18-hour layover in Paris for the aircraft used on the Johannesburg route.[76] This route performed very well, with an average load factor of 96%. The fourth A380 has been delivered in August 2010, and has been used to begin A380 flights to Tokyo, which started on 1 September 2010. As of 22 April 2011, Air France offers daily service aboard the A380 to Montreal.[77] As more are delivered, Washington D.C.[78] will also be added as a A380 destination in summer 2011. Air France was the first airline in Europe to be operating the A380 with Lufthansa following in June 2010. Air France will also launch the A380 to Dubai on 5 December 2011 and to Los Angeles on 28 May 2012.[79]

Anniversary jet

Air France Airbus A320 retrojet.

On 14 November 2008, Air France released the first picture[80] of an Airbus A320 with registration F-GFKJ that has been repainted in the full 1946 paint scheme[81] to celebrate the airline's 75 years anniversary. This heritage aircraft was planned to fly under the special colours until early 2010.[82] As of August 2011, the heritage aircraft was still in service.[83]

Fleet history

Over the years, Air France has operated the following aircraft types:[84]

Air France Historical Fleet
Aircraft Introduced Retired
Airbus A300 1974 1998
Airbus A310 1984 2002
Airbus A318 2003
Airbus A319 1997
Airbus A320 1988
Airbus A321 1997
Airbus A330-200 2001
Airbus A340-200 1993 1999
Airbus A340-300 1993
Airbus A380-800 2009
Boeing 707–320 Intercontinental[85] 19?? 19??
Boeing 707-320B[85] 19?? 19??
Boeing 707-320C[85] 19?? 19??
Boeing 727-200[86] 19?? 1993
Boeing 737–200 1982 2002
Boeing 737–300 1991 2004
Boeing 737–500 1990 2007
Boeing 747–100 1970 2008
Boeing 747-200B 197? 20??
Boeing 747-200F 197? 20??
Boeing 747–300 1991 2007
Boeing 747-400 1991
Historical Fleet (continued)
Aircraft Introduced Retired
Boeing 747-400BCF 20??
Boeing 747-400F 2001
Boeing 767–200[87] 1991 1992
Boeing 767–300 1991 2003
Boeing 777-200 1998
Boeing 777F 2008
Boeing 777-300ER 2004
Breguet 763[88] 194? 19??
Concorde 1976 2003
Douglas DC-3[89] 19?? 19??
Douglas DC-4[90] 19?? 19??
Douglas DC-6[91] 19?? 19??
Fokker F27[92] 19?? 19??
Fokker 100 1997 1999
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 1989 1991
Lockheed L-749 Constellation[93] 19?? 19??
Lockheed L-1049G S. Constellation[94] 19?? 19??
Lockheed L-1649A Starliner[95] 19?? 19??
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 1992
SNCASE Languedoc[96] 1945 1952
Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle[97] 196? 1991
Vickers Viscount 700[98] 19?? 19??


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 International 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, an annex of the National Air & Space Museum in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, near 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.

Cabin classes

La Première (First) seats on a Boeing 777.

Air France has four primary classes of international service: La Première (First), Affaires (Business), Premium Voyageur (Premium Economy) and Voyageur (Economy). European short-haul flights feature Voyageur and Premium Voyageur class service. For flights to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, a premium economy class, Alizé, is also offered,[99] and a Premium Voyageur class has been announced for selected international routes. Inflight entertainment via AVOD (Audio Video on Demand) is available in select cabins.

La Première

La Première (former L'Espace Première), Air France's long-haul first class product, is available on the Airbus A380 along with four-class Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200ER aircraft.[100] The Première cabin features four to nine (A380) wood and leather seats which recline 180°, forming two-metre long beds. Each seat features a 10.4" touchscreen TV monitor with interactive gaming and AVOD, a privacy divider, automassage feature, reading light, storage drawer, noise-cancelling headphones, personal telephone, and laptop power ports. À la carte on-demand meal services feature entrées created by Chef Guy Martin. Turndown service includes a mattress, duvet and pillow. Private lounge access is offered worldwide. La Première is not available on the A330-200 and A340-300, where Affaires is the highest cabin class; and since 2010, the same applies to three-class 777-200ER and 777-300ER aircraft.[100] Through 2011, four-class 777-200ER and 777-300ER configurations are equipped with four and eight La Première seats respectively.[100]


Affaires (Business) lie-flat seats.

Affaires (former L'Espace Affaires), Air France's long-haul business class product, is available on Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Airbus A380, Boeing 747–400, Boeing 777-200ER, and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Affaires features 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.


Alizé is Air France's regional premium economy product for flights to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean (such as the Antilles, French Guiana, Reunion Island and Mauritius). On the Boeing 777-300ER, the Alizé cabin is located ahead of the Voyageur cabin and features 36 seats. Alizé seats recline up to 123° and feature massaging foot rests. A pre-departure drink, enhanced meal service, and feather pillows and blankets are offered.

Premium Voyageur

This new premium economy class became available on the Boeing 777-200ER, 777-300ER, Airbus A340-300 and Airbus A330-200 in late 2009 and early 2010. In late 2010 and early 2011, Air France's new Airbus A380-800 were fitted with the premium economy seats, located behind the Affaires cabin on the upper deck of the aircraft. It incorporates all standard Voyageur class amenities with a more spacious 2-4-2 (2-3-2 on the Long Haul Airbus Fleet) configuration and 38" pitch. There are 32 new seats on the Boeing 777-300ER.[101] Premium Voyageur's gradual rollout covers the entire long-haul fleet except the Boeing 747–400.


Voyageur (Economy) cabin.

Voyageur (former Tempo), Air France's economy class product, features seats that recline up to 118°. The latest long-haul Voyageur 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 are gradually being installed on all of Air France's longhaul aircraft except Boeing 747-400s. Short-haul Voyageur 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-haul aircraft in both classes. On short haul flights a snack is served. On medium haul flights a three course cold meal is served. On long haul flights there is a choice between two main courses when available. Free alcoholic beverages are available on all flights, including champagne.[102] The prior Tempo cabin was renamed as Voyageur with Air France's new image rebranding.


In-flight catering

For its Première cabin, Air France's first class menu is designed by Guy Martin, chef of Le Grand Vefour, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Paris.[103] Menu items include hors d’oeuvres, entrées, bread basket, and cheeses, along with a dessert cart including pastries, petit fours, and tartlets.[104] Air France also serves complimentary champagne to passengers in all classes.[105]

In-flight entertainment

In-flight AVOD and dessert course in Affaires (Business)

Air France offers Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) in all classes on service on its A330, A340, A380 and 777 aircraft. The AVOD system features multiple channels of video, audio, music, and games. Première and Affaires passengers can start and stop programs, plus rewind and fast-forward as desired; in Voyageur class, the system may cycle between programs at a regular interval on all aircraft except Airbus A380 and Boeing 777. Most aircraft in Air France's 747 fleet do not have individual video screens in Voyageur class. 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 Première and Affaires cabins and lounges.[106] On all flights, all films may be watched in English, Spanish, and French. Selected films on all flights are also available in Chinese, Japanese, and/or Korean. The airline offers Berlitz International language courses via the in-flight entertainment system.[107] Air France Magazine is the airline's in-flight magazine.


Air France lounges are open to Première and Affaires passengers, as well as Flying Blue Gold, Flying Blue Platinum, SkyTeam Elite Plus, or the new unocompanied minor lounge as well as many others.

Flying Blue

Air France Business Lounge at CDG Terminal 2E.

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) and Elite (Silver, 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 Gold, and Elite Platinum cards have added benefits.[108] Flying Blue succeeded Air France's previous frequent flyer program, Fréquence Plus, which operated until the Air France-KLM merger in 2003.

  • Ivory – Permanent status; accrues mileage on AF, KLM, and qualifying flights.
  • Silver (Elite)[109] – 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.[109]

In popular culture

Vickers Viscount of Air France at London Heathrow in 1954

Air France is the official airline of the Cannes Film Festival.[110]

Incidents and accidents

See also


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Further reading

External links

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