Along with KLM, Air France created one of the world leaders in air transport – passengers, cargo, and maintenance.
With the attacks on the World Trade Center (2001) and the United States' war in Iraq (2003), traffic fell and the price of oil climbed. The air industry fell into one of the worst crises in its history. Once again, the biggest players were the worst exposed, and were simultaneously under threat from the arrival of low-cost airlines. On the domestic market, Air France also had to compete with the rise of the TGV train.
It was goodbye to Concorde. The 'beautiful white bird' made its last commercial flight on 31 May 2003, nearly three years after the crash at Gonesse in France.
With its policy of 'sustainable growth', Air France adapted. Better still, it became stronger. Internationally, the airline redeployed itself in Asia and Africa. In France, it bought regional airlines (BritAir and Régional) and took a complementary approach to the French railway system, connecting the TGV to the Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub.
Air France's upscaling was also due to its strategy of building alliances. From 2000, it was at the heart of SkyTeam, a global alliance forged with Delta Airlines, Aéromexico, and Korean Air. SkyTeam now has 20 member airlines.
A GROUP IS BORN
In 2004, Air France launched a public exchange offer for KLM shares, which led to the two companies merging. The birth of the Air France-KLM group was followed by the privatization of Air France the same year. In this period, the Group became the number one airline worldwide in terms of turnover, and the third-largest in terms of the number of passengers transported (66 million on 550 aircraft in 2003). Air France-KLM's global network was coordinated around the two hubs at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol, which are among the four biggest hubs in Europe. Flights to or from these European hubs are organized around six or seven connecting banks. Currently, around 45% of Air France customers are connecting passengers, and this figure stands at 60% for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
After the merger, the Air France-KLM logo was placed on the noses of aircraft, and the winged seahorse was placed on the engines. The AF acronym figures prominently on the airline's flag and logos. The new livery was adopted in February 2009, the same date as a change to the Air France brand's graphics: the font, AIRFRANCE as a single word in capital letters, and the red accent after the name.
With its 24.5 million members, Flying Blue – the Air France-KLM Group's loyalty programme – brings together 35 airlines and over 100 non-airline partners. It is made even more attractive by the fact that it is the most powerful loyalty programme in Europe.
In 2007, Air France launched its own low-cost subsidiary, Transavia, based at Orly airport.
Set up in 2008, Air France, Delta and Alitalia’s joint venture is now the most advanced cooperation model. It involved the joint operations and the sharing of revenue and costs of over 250 transatlantic flights operated on a daily basis by Air France, Delta and Alitalia.
At the end of the 2000s, Air France was faced with new challenges. In 2009, flight AF447 between Rio and Paris crashed into the sea. In addition, the economic context was worsening considerably. The airline responded with a restructuring plan.
L'Art du voyage à la Française
Air France, compagnie globale d’inspiration française, exigeante et attentionnée, fait du voyage un moment de plaisir et d’élégance, la meilleure expérience de voyage possible. Une promesse portée par la signature Air France : France is in the Air.
Air France se lance dans la montée en gamme de ses produits et services avec un nouvel esprit, celui de l’art de voyager à la française. Une nouvelle étape qui se dessine à travers 3 valeurs essentielles ; l’attention, la haute qualité et le plaisir. Des valeurs qui sont pour les clients, l’affirmation de la relation attentionnée et l’expression du savoir-faire d’Air France.
En mars 2016, 30 Boeing 777 seront équipés des nouvelles cabines et s’envoleront vers 28 destinations à travers le monde. Chacune a fait l’objet d’attentions particulières pour que les clients voyagent dans un confort optimal dans toutes les cabines ; La Première, une véritable suite « haute couture », en cabine Business, un véritable cocon en plein ciel, en Premium Economy, plus de confort et en Economy, un nouveau siège. La montée en gamme s’opère également sur le réseau moyen-courrier. Depuis avril 2015, une nouvelle offre et de nouveaux sièges entièrement revus équipent 24 Airbus A319 et, au premier semestre 2016, 25 Airbus A320, soit 7 800 fauteuils. Enfin, HOP! Air France repense l’ensemble de son offre La Navette pour répondre aux attentes de flexibilité et de ponctualité des clients.