Air France

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Air France
Founded 1933
Hubs Charles de Gaulle International Airport
Focus cities/ secondary hubs Orly Airport
Saint-Exupéry International Airport
Frequent flyer program Flying Blue
Member lounge Departures Lounge
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 373
Destinations 187
Parent company Air France-KLM
Headquarters Paris, France
Key people Jean-Cyril Spinetta (Chairman and CEO), Pierre-Henri Gourgeon (COO), Philippe Calavia (CFO)
Air France Boeing 747
Air France Boeing 747

Air France (Compagnie Nationale Air France) is a subsidiary of Air France-KLM. Before the take-over of KLM, it was essentially the national airline of France, employing 71,654 people (at January 2005).

The company, whose headquarters are at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris (headquarters now used by Air France-KLM), transported 43.3 million passengers and earned 12.53 billion Euro between April 2001 and March 2002. Air France's subsidiary, Régional, operates regional jet and turboprop flights within Europe.

Air France took over the Dutch company KLM in May 2004, resulting in the creation of Air France-KLM. Air France-KLM is the largest airline company in the world in terms of operating revenues, and the third-largest in the world (largest in Europe) in terms of passengers-kilometers.

Air France-KLM is part of the SkyTeam Alliance with Delta Air Lines, Aeroméxico, Korean Air, CSA Czech Airlines, Alitalia, Northwest Airlines, and Continental Airlines. Both Air France and KLM continue to fly under their distinct brand names, but this may change in the future.



Find more about Air France history on the Air France : la saga website :]

Founded on August 30, 1933 through the merger of Air Orient, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA, the first French carrier, founded as Lignes Aériennes Farman in 1919), Air Union and CIDNA (Compagnie Internationale de Navigation). The airline had extensive routes across Europe, but also to French colonies in northern Africa and elsewhere. During World War II, Air France moved its operations to Casablanca, Morocco; the airline was featured prominently in the film Casablanca.

After the Second World War the company was nationalized and Societe Nationale Air France was set up on 1 January 1946. Compagnie Nationale Air France was created by a parliamentary act on June 16, 1948. The government held 70% of the new company and in mid-2002 still held a 54% stake in the airline. On August 4, 1948, Max Hymans was appointed president of Air France. During his thirteen years at the helm, he implemented a modernisation policy based on jet aircraft, specifically the Sud Aviation Caravelle and the Boeing 707.

In 1949 the company was one of the founders of SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques). The airline used the De Havilland Comet for a short while from 1953, but soon replaced it with Vickers Viscounts. In 1959 the company started widespread use of the elegant twin-jet Sud Aviation Caravelle. It graduated to the use of Boeing aircraft, but as a national European carrier it became committed to Airbus designs from 1974.

In 1976, the airline started operating the unique Concorde SST supersonic airliner on the Paris-Charles de Gaulle to New York route as well as a number of other routes (those other routes were dropped in 1982). It flew the route Paris to New York City in 3 hours and 20 minutes, at about twice the speed of sound).

On 12 January 1990, the operations of all government owned airlies, Air France, Air Inter, Air Charter and UTA, were merged into the Air France Group. A new holding company Groupe Air France was set up by decree on 25 July 1994 and implemented on 1 September 1994. It had majority shareholdings in Air France and Air Inter (renamed Air France Europe). In 1997 Air France Europe was fully absorbed into Air France. On 10 February 1999 the French government partially privatised the airline on the Paris stock exchange. It became a founder member of the Skyteam Alliance in June 2000.

The five Air France Concordes were withdrawn from use on 31 May 2003 when all Concordes were simultaneously retired by Air France and British Airways as a result of insufficient demand following the 2000 accident, along with higher fuel and maintenance costs. Concorde F-BVFA was transferred to the U.S. Air and Space museum in Washington DC, USA. F-BVFB was given to a German museum, F-BTSD to the "Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace" in Paris, while F-BVFC was returned to its place of manufacture in Toulouse (France) at the Airbus Industrie factory.

On September 30, 2003, Air France and Netherlands-based KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), announced the merging of the two airlines, the new company to be known as Air France-KLM. The merger became reality on May 5, 2004. Former Air France shareholders own 81% of the new firm (44% owned by the French government, 37% by private shareholders), while former KLM shareholders hold the rest. The French government's share of Air France was reduced from 54.4 per cent (of the former Air France) to 44 per cent (of the current Air France-KLM), thus in effect privatizing Air France. In December 2004 the French state sold 18.4% of its equity stake in the Air France-KLM Group, reducing its stake to just uner 20%.

Incidents and accidents

The Air France Flight 4590 disaster led to the grounding of the world's Concorde fleet.
The Air France Flight 4590 disaster led to the grounding of the world's Concorde fleet.
Air France Flight 358 ablaze after overshooting the runway at  Toronto Pearson International Airport outside Toronto, Canada
Air France Flight 358 ablaze after overshooting the runway at Toronto Pearson International Airport outside Toronto, Canada
  • On October 27, 1949, boxer Marcel Cerdan and violinist Ginette Neveu died when an Air France flight crashed into a mountain after two failed attempts to make a landing at the São Miguel Island airport in the Azores.

Following an investigation a faulty servo motor was found, which led to an improper (and non-adjustable) elevator trim. Brake marks measuring 1,500 feet (457 m) were found on the runway, indicating that the cockpit crew tried desperately to abort take-off. The aircraft, unable to obtain the necessary lift, rolled right while only seven feet (2 m) from the ground, causing its right wing to hit the ground. The 707-328 crashed 50 yards (45 m) from the runway and exploded. The only section of the aircraft that remained remotely intact was the tail (where the two survivors were seated before they were thrown clear during the crash).

Most of the victims were members of the Atlanta Art Association (121 passengers). As a result of the tragedy an arts complex was constructed in Atlanta, bankrolled by community donations (including $4 Million from a then anonymous donor), and opened on 05-October-1968 as the “Atlanta Memorial Arts Center”. The anonymous donor was eventually revealed to be the Woodruff Foundation, an organization established by philanthropist Robert W. Woodruff. The complex was later renamed “Woodruff Arts Center”.

  • On Sunday June 26, 1988, an Airbus A320 of Air France crashed near the airfield of Mulhouse-Habsheim in Alsace/France. The aircraft overflew the airfield around 1400 hours in good weather. Seconds later the aircraft touched the tops of trees behind the runway and crashed into a forest. 3 passengers died in the accident and about 50 were injured. This accident was filmed by a video amateur and has been shown dozens of times on TV. F-GFKC was the first of a couple of aircraft of this type to be lost over the next few years.
  • On July 25, 2000, Air France Flight 4590, a chartered Concorde departing from De Gaulle airport in Paris bound for JFK crashed just after take-off in Gonesse impacting an hotel. All those on board died plus four people on the ground.
  • On August 2, 2005, Air France Flight 358, an Airbus A340 (registration F-GLZQ) with 297 passengers and 12 crew, overran the runway and crashed into trees at Toronto Pearson International Airport in bad weather conditions. The aircraft later caught fire near the tail. All passengers survived, although a reported 43 people were taken to hospital for minor injuries. Emergency services were on the scene of the crash in under 60 seconds.



Air France Airbus A320
Air France Airbus A320

Current fleet

The Air France fleet consists of the following aircraft (at August 2nd 2005):

Aircraft orders

  • On 22 February 2005 Air France placed a firm order for 4 further Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, adding to 10 previously ordered (4 delivered). The airline had previously ordered 18 Boeing 777-200ERs.
  • Air France has ordered 10 Airbus A380 aircraft, with options on a further 4 aircraft, and in November 2007 will become the first European operator of the A380. A further 3 aircraft will be delivered in the spring of 2007, with the remaining 6 over the following 2 years. The A380 will initially be used on North Atlantic route services from Paris to Montreal and New York and in 2008, as additional aircraft arrive, on services to Beijing and Tokyo (ref: Airliner World, March 2005).
  • On 20 May 2005 Air France signed an agreement with Boeing to convert three of its former combi Boeing 747-400 aircraft, currently in all passenger configuration, into full freighter configuration under the Boeing 747-400SF (Special Freighter) programme. The first modified aircraft will be delivered in June 2007, enabling acceleration of the phasing out of old Boeing 747-200 Freighters (ref: Air International, July 2005).
  • On 23 May 2005 Air France agreed to purchase 5 Boeing 777-200F aircraft (with 3 further options), marking the official launch of the Boeing 777 Freighter. First delivery will be in late 2008, commencing replacement of the airline's Boeing 747-200F fleet (ref: Air International, July 2005).

Retired aircraft

See also

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External links

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