Au Revoir, Joon: Air France’s New Boss Wants to Ditch the ‘Millennial Airline’

Dec 1, 2018

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Joon, the Air France subsidiary aimed at young people, may be going out of business soon. The new Canadian boss at Air France wants to close the airline after only one year.

According to French newspaper Le Figaro, Benjamin Smith — who took over in August as chief executive of the Air France – KLM group and interim chief of Air France itself — has “decided to put an end” to the subsidiary, even as Joon opens new destinations in Europe and around the world. Citing an Air France source, news agency Reuters reported that Smith “doesn’t understand the positioning or identity of Joon.”

That’s too bad. When we tried Joon erlier this year, we didn’t dislike it. In fact we found its coach class better than coach class on Air Fance. Its business class, while not lie-flat, is a good option for redeeming SkyMiles (Air France is a Delta partner) on routes to places, like Cape Town, where biz-class options are scarce.

And just a  few days ago Joon had announced the introduction of a new economy-class seat that could be turned into a small area for kids. That was cool, but also seemed a bit weird for an airline aimed squarely at millennials — even its name, while it doesn’t really mean anything in French or English, sounds like jeune, the French word for young.

Its branding and advertising campaigns carry a whiff of, if not outright youthfulness, at least of what Air France executives thought was a sense of being young, smart and French. Note the cabin crew uniform of sneakers and très Français horizontal-stripe t-shirts in the image below, taken with then-ceo Jean-Marc Janaillac at the official launch in 2017.

Air France-KLM's Chairman and CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac (C) poses with Joon's staff on September 25, 2017 in Paris during the launching of Joon, the new lower-cost airline subsidiary of Air France.Joon's activities will start on December 1, 2017 with intra-Europe flights and long haul flights during summer 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Joon’s business model isn’t quite based on low fares, but it’s definitely low cost for Air France, at least as far as cabin crew pay goes. Joon pilots get paid like Air France’s, but the around 500 flight attendants — “all expressly hired to work for [Joon] at less generous conditions than Air France’s,” said Le Figaro — are paid less. They might be transferred to mainline Air France. The 16 airplanes Joon flies, taken from the Air France fleet, would simply go back to the main carrier. They are Airbus A320 and A321 single-aisle twinjets, plus a handful of A340 twin-aisle, four-engined planes used on long hauls.

Featured image of the Joon logo courtesy of the airline

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