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FRANCE: The French flag carrier launches airline for millennials

posted onSeptember 28, 2017
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Air France launched a new lower-cost subsidiary which it said is aimed at millennial travellers (18 to 35-year-olds) “whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.” The low-cost airline-within-an-airline called “Joon” will offer medium-haul flights from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport starting this December with intercontinental flights expected to begin in spring 2018.

The idea, according to a recent Air France presentation, is to “regain the offensive” in the company’s ongoing battle with Ryanair, EasyJet, and other low-cost European carriers and recover the profitability of some routes. Currently, Air France operates the largest fleet of any European country but is not the only air carrier investing in low-cost offerings. Other groups are IAG, owner of the British Airways, German Lufthansa, Eurowings and the Canadian WestJet.

Joon (from "jeune" which means "young" in French) will be run by Jean-Michel Mathieu, who has been involved with the project since the start and has held various positions in sales, digital and revenue management within the Air France-KLM group.

According to Reuters, Joon will be staffed with pilots from Air France, who will fly on a voluntary basis, and an outsourced cabin crew who will reportedly be paid 20 to 40 % less than those working in Air France’s main network. By 2020, Joon should have 28 aircraft, including 10 long-haul Airbus jets.

In a blog post, Brett Snyder, an industry analyst, said he doubts Joon will be successful. “Air France appears to have just given up and told a group of clueless consultants to do whatever they wanted. The end result is an airline with a highly questionable business plan… but one with a ‘punchy’ name.” he wrote.

Gianluca Mezzofiore, Mashable UK's Real-Time News Reporter has a similar opinion. “ Any marketing campaign focusing on Generation Y, or those born after 1980, is going to inevitably pigeonhole millions of people into a few, damning stereotypes while carefully avoiding the real problems they face, namely the perfect storm of debt, housing and joblessness, as The Guardian put it" he writes. “So let us get this right: AirFrance believes debt-ridden, job-seeking millennials are going to purchase a blisteringly expensive Business class ticket" Mezzofiore argues.

Air France notes that Joon is not meant to be a budget experience. “Joon will not be a low-cost airline as it will offer original products and services that reflect those of Air France. Joon is a lifestyle brand and a state of mind” the company states in a press release.

But price is by far the most important factor when travelers choose an airline, according to a 2015 study by the International Air Transport Association.