Air France

Template:Infobox Company

Air France
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 over 64,000 people.

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. Five Concordes were withdrawn from use on 31 May 2003. 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.


Code Data

  • IATA Code: AF
  • ICAO Code: AFR
  • Callsign: Air France


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.

The company was nationalized in 1946, and Compagnie Nationale Air France was created by a parliamentary act on June 16, 1948. The government held 70% of the new company and still (mid-2002) holds 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.

Missing image

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 May 31st 2003, all Concordes were simultaneously retired by Air France and British Airways as a result of insufficient demand following the 2000 accident. 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 per cent 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.

Disasters and Incidents

The  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.

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.

3 June, 1962: A chartered Boeing 707-328 (registration F-BHSM) departed its gate at Orly Airport (Paris, France) for a flight to Atlanta (Georgia, USA). The aircraft eventually crashed during take-off; 130 of the total 132 people on board were killed. Two flight attendants sitting in the aft (tail or rear) section of the aircraft were miraculously saved.

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”.

In 1994, a group of men from the Algerian group GIA hijacked Air France Flight 8969, and intended to crash it into the Eiffel Tower. French commandos intervened and prevented an incident.

On July 25, 2000, Air France Flight 4590, a Concorde bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City crashed in Gonesse. All on board died as well as four people on the ground.

Air France has been the target of many hijackings: 1973 Marseille; 1976 Benghazi (Operation Entebbe) and Ho Chi Minh City; 1977 Benghazi; 1983 Geneva; 1984 Geneva twice; 1989 Algiers; 1993 Nice; 1994 Algiers; 1999 Paris. On December 24, 2003, three Air France flights bound for LAX International Airport in Los Angeles were cancelled because of fears that terrorist group members would board.


Missing image
Air France Airbus A320

Current fleet

The Air France fleet consists of the following aircraft (at February 2005):

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 and signed a firm contract on 17 February 2005 for 6 Boeing 787-8 aircraft (with options on a further 6). (ref: Air International, April 2005)

Air France has ordered 10 Airbus A380 aircraft, with options on a further 4 aircraft, and in April 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).

Retired aircraft


External Links

See Also


Members of the Skyteam Alliance
Aeroméxico | Air France | Alitalia | Continental Airlines | CSA Czech Airlines | Delta Air Lines | KLM | Korean Air | Northwest Airlines
Future Members: Air Europa | Aeroflot | China Southern Airlines | COPA | Kenya Airways | TAROM
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