Air France is celebrating its 90th anniversary as one of the world’s oldest and most prominent airlines. It was founded in 1933 through the merger of five main French airlines. Over the years, Air France has played a significant role in the aviation industry, introducing the first transatlantic flight in 1946 and entering the jet age in the 1950s. The airline experienced a major setback with the crash of Concorde flight in 2000, leading to the retirement of the Concorde fleet. Air France-KLM was formed in 2004, creating one of the largest airline groups globally. The airline’s recent acquisition of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) further strengthens its position in the industry. Air France currently operates nearly 1,000 flights per day to 200 destinations with a fleet of over 240 aircraft. In celebration of its 90th anniversary, Air France has collaborated with a French designer to create dresses representing different aspects of the company’s history.
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On this day 90 years ago, Air France was founded, marking the beginning of a long and illustrious history in the aviation industry. Today, we will take a journey back in time to explore the fascinating story of this iconic airline and learn some fun facts along the way.
Air France was established in 1933 through the merger of five major French airlines at the time: Air Orient, Air Union, Farman Lines, CIDNA, and Aéropostale. Interestingly, the logo of Air Orient, a stylized seahorse, is still featured in the livery of Air France aircraft.
After the Second World War, Air France was nationalized by the French state and embarked on its first transatlantic flight in 1946. The airline’s Douglas DC-4 flew from Paris to New York in just under 24 hours, marking an important milestone in its history.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Air France embraced the jet age by introducing the de Havilland Comet series 1A, Caravelle, and Boeing 707 aircraft into its fleet. These technological advancements propelled the airline into a new era of air travel.
Air France played a pivotal role in the development of France’s domestic network by collaborating with the French railway state company SNCF to launch Air Inter in 1954. This private airline aimed to improve connectivity within France.
One of the most memorable moments in Air France’s history was the introduction of the Concorde supersonic aircraft in 1976. The Concorde could achieve speeds up to Mach 2.04, making it an engineering marvel and a symbol of technological advancement.
In 1990, Air France underwent another significant merger, absorbing the activities of Air Inter and UTA. This strategic move allowed the airline to strengthen its position in the domestic market.
The early 2000s presented both challenges and opportunities for Air France. Despite the global aviation downturn following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the airline demonstrated resilience and posted positive financial results. This success contrasted with the struggles faced by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, leading to a historic merger between the two carriers in 2004.
Over the past two decades, Air France-KLM has navigated through various consolidations and restructuring efforts. These include the merging of three regional subsidiaries into HOP! and the short-lived venture of Joon, which aimed to attract younger travelers.
Despite recent challenges, such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air France-KLM has shown signs of recovery. In 2023, the airline group reported a substantial increase in revenue.
As part of the 90th anniversary celebration, Air France collaborated with French designer Xavier Ronze to create five dresses representing different aspects of the company, including aircraft and technology, uniforms and fashion, iconic posters, fine dining and tableware, and design and architecture.
In a recent development, Air France-KLM announced its acquisition of a majority equity stake in Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), further solidifying its position as a global airline group.
Today, Air France operates nearly 1,000 flights per day to 200 destinations, boasting a fleet of over 240 aircraft.
As we commemorate Air France’s 90th anniversary, let us appreciate the rich history and achievements of this iconic airline. Happy anniversary, Air France!
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