Photographer: Vinh Pham

Air France Plans Lower-Cost Airline to Attract Millennials

  • Project previously called Boost set to start service in autumn
  • New ‘lifestyle brand’ to begin with short-haul flights

Air France-KLM Group will start flights this autumn of its Joon reduced-fare brand that will target millennial customers as Europe’s biggest carrier seeks to fend off growing competition from discounters such as Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

Joon, previously code-named Boost, will initially offer medium-haul services from the airline’s Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport base and begin long-haul routes in mid-2018, the company said Thursday in a statement, reiterating earlier plans. The unit, which the carrier describes as complementary to the Air France mainline brand rather than a low-cost airline, will be led by digital-services and direct-sales executive Jean-Michel Mathieu, 48.

The brand will be positioned to serve primarily adults aged 18 to 35 and is part of Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Janaillac’s strategy to increase earnings amid intensifying competition. The proposed mix of flights to European cities and destinations further away would follow Norwegian Air’s expansion into trans-Atlantic and Asian routes. Janaillac’s plans for Joon have been complicated by the need to end labor strife dating from his predecessor Alexandre de Juniac’s term as he seeks to hold back spending.

Janaillac has hammered out deals for Joon flight attendants to work under contracts separate from Air France labor agreements, while pilots will retain most of their original contract conditions from the main division after agreeing to 40 million euros ($46 million) in cost savings including giving up some days off.

The name Joon, which echoes the word “jeune” for “young” in French, is “short, punchy and international” and marks a “lifestyle brand” designed for a worldwide audience, Air France said. The business was “entirely designed” to win over millennial-generation customers whose lives revolve around digital technology, it said.

Operations will start with six medium-haul planes, with four added for the long-distance flights next year, an Air France spokeswoman said by phone. While the company has outlined an electric-blue corporate color for Joon, more information on cabin livery and other service details will be unveiled in September, she said.

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