History and recent development
Air France is France’s biggest airline and the national flag carrier. Founded in 1933 as a merger between several aviation companies, Air France has over 80 years of aviation history. Even the first company logo, a winged seahorse, belonged to one of the original merged airlines – Air Orient. Air France has come a long way since being listed on the Paris stock exchange in 1999. The company currently operates a fleet of 245 aircrafts, most of which are manufactured by Airbus with an average age of 10.3 years. In 2004, another great merger took place when Air France and Dutch airline KLM united forces to become the world’s largest airline company both in terms of total operating revenues and international passenger kilometers. A few years later, Air France faced a difficult period during the world economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, concluding with a debt of 814m €. Another critical moment in the airline’s history was the crash of flight AF 447 off the South American coast, which was considered the worst accident in the airline’s 80 year history. Today, the airline has returned to a positive development, ordering new aircrafts to its fleet in 2013 and upgrading its business class amenities throughout 2014 onwards.
Air France’s main hub is Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), where it operates most of its long distance and national flights. There are a total of 165 destinations covered by Air France, including almost all major international locations. The French airline serves New York (JFK) from Paris (CDG) in over 1800 connections per year.Destinations in South America include tourist magnet, Rio de Janeiro (GIG). Flights are offered to many destinations especially in West Africa, for example Abidjan (ABJ), which passengers can reach from Paris ten times a week. Among the most popular routes are the convenient connections from Europe to the French overseas departments, especially flights to Papeete (PPT) which is served via Los Angeles three times a week, to Réunion (ZSE), served twelve times a week, and Mauritius (MRU), served between three and seven times per week, depending on the season.
Services and quality of service
Air France is a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance, with partners including renowned airlines such as KLM, Delta, Alitalia, Aeroflot, and Korean Air. The airline has a four-star rating on SKYTRAX and runs a frequent flyer program known as “Flying Blue”. Customers emphasize good cancellation policies and handling of delays. Like most airlines today, Air France offers an information service (“AF Connect”) which can be accessed by phone, SMS or email in the case of a delay or cancellation. However, with an on-time arrival performance of 80% it would seem that extensive delays are more of an exception than the norm. The gastronomic service on-board is appreciated by most passengers with a four-star rating in all classes on SKYTRAX; the same holds true for in-flight entertainment services. However, in terms of the cleanliness of cabin and washrooms, cabin comfort and condition, the performance is high in first and business classes, while Air France reaches only a solid three-star rating in economy class.
Cultural and ecological commitments
Air France is committed to sustainable development and has, among many other things, introduced new containers to decrease flight weight. This decrease helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions and kerosene usage, which pollutes the environment. Sustainability is not the company’s only aim: it is also active in the historical and cultural communication of topics related to aviation, especially regarding the company’s own history. For all those interested in this topic, you can visit the company operated website “Air France la saga“, where all sorts of interesting articles, videos and photographs can be found.
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