In October, 1933, Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA) merged and so Air France was born.
In 1946, Air France appointed its first flight attendants and opened its first air terminal in central Paris, at Les Invalides.
Same year, Air France started regular flights between Paris and New York and by 1948, its fleet was one of the largest in the world, having 130 aircraft.
In 1949, Air France co-founded the Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), an airline telecommunications services company.
Air France started using jets in 1953, with the de Havilland Comet series 1, one year after moving its engineering and operations base to the new Paris Orly Airport South terminal.
Uninterrupted pure jet operations started in 1960, using the Sud Aviation Caravelle and the Boeing 707.
From 1974, Air France shifted most of its operations to the new Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris.
In 1975, Air France moved its headquarters in central Paris.
On the 21st of January, 1976, Air France started operating supersonic flights from Paris to Rio using the Concorde.
The following year, Air France started operating supersonic flights from Paris to New York and Washington D.C.
In 1983, Air France had over 34,000 employees, a fleet of over 100 jets, including 33 Boeing 747s, and a network of 634,400 km, serving 150 destinations in 73 countries. Air France was the second-largest scheduled freight carrier and world’s fourth-largest passenger airline.
Five years later, next to Air Inter and British Caledonian, Air France was a launch customer for the fly-by-wire narrowbody Airbus A320 aircraft, becoming the first airline to take delivery of the A320 in March 1988.
On the 12th of January, 1990, the government-owned Air France, semi-public Air Inter and wholly private UTA merged into an enlarged Air France.
After founding the SkyTeam Alliance in June, 2000, Air France merged with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, this deal becoming effective on the 5th of May, 2004.
Air France-KLM became the largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenues, as well as third-largest (largest in Europe) in passenger kilometres, but both companies continue to fly under their own brand names.
On the 13th of January, 2009, Air France agreed to enter into recently privatised Alitalia’s capital share with a 25% stake.
In November, 2009, Air France was the first European carrier to offer flights on the A380nd the first in the world to offer transatlantic flights by A380 between Europe and the United States. Replacing two mid-sized “classic” widebody aircraft with the A380, Air France was able to offer the same capacity with much higher economic efficiency, at significantly lower fuel consumption, and with lower emissions.
In March, 2013, Hop!, a result of the synergy between the Air France group’s three regional airlines (Brit Air, Regional and Airlinair) took off. With a competitive offer and quickly adaptable to market changes and competition, HOP! – Air France’s new regional airline – aims to become the reference airline on inter-regional routes in France and Europe, for business or leisure travel.
In June 2014, Air France inaugurated its first Boeing 777 equipped with its new long-haul travel cabins. The new cabins are the result of four years of development in partnership with Zodiac Aerospace and were a necessary undertaking in today’s competitive aviation environment. On board the aircraft equipped with the new travel cabins, customers can enjoy the new designer suites in La Première and a cocoon in the sky in Business. Premium Economy now offers fully redesigned seats (with 40 percent more space than in Economy), more comfortable seat cushions, 12-inch screens, and a multi-position footrest. The new Economy Class cabin offers a new fully-revised seat, with more legroom (an extra inch of space at knee height), 9-inch screens, more comfortable headrests, new seat cushions, and wider tray tables. Both Economy and Premium Economy will be outfitted with high-end entertainment systems (high definition touch screen developed by Zodiac Inflight Innovations: RAVE) and personal charging stations.
In 2015, Skytrax has awarded Air France as the World’s Most Improved Airline. One of the main innovations was the introduction of the new Air France medium-haul cabins on the A319 fleet in 2015 (to be followed on the A320 in 2016). In line with the long-haul range upgrade, the medium-haul cabins feature new leather-bound seats, a headrest in Air France colors, and enhanced inflight services.
In April 2016, Air France expanded its fleet by welcoming a new Boeing 777-300, thus increasing its capacity to 43 Boeing 777-300s and 25 Boeing 777-200ERs. Currently, 31 Boeing 777 of the Air France fleet are equipped with the new travel cabins, and the upgrade of the long-haul fleet will continue, including for the A330 aircraft from the end of 2017.
In January 2017, Air France took delivery of its first Boeing B787-9 aircraft. The Dreamliner features the latest Air France cabins and larger windows and offers improved air pressure and humidity levels for greater travel comfort.
In December 2018, Air France appointed Anne Rigail as its new CEO. Anne Rigail, the first woman to lead the French carrier, has a 27-year history in the company and was an executive vice president at the time.
In September 2019, as part of the Air France long-haul fleet’s renewal and growth strategy, the first Airbus A350 900 aircraft will be entering service. The new aircraft, featuring 34 seats in Business Class, 24 seats in Premium Economy and 266 seats in Economy Class will first operate on routes to West Africa before starting operating trans-Atlantic flights.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the entire airline industry. Air France repatriated thousands of French and European citizens and operated essential services for people, trade, and the economy. The airline transported 17,6 million passengers, compared to 52.2 million in 2019, operated 41.3% of its flight schedule compared to 2019, and processed 3 million refund requests representing 1.7 billion euros in ticket refunds.
In 2021, Air France is maintaining its activities during the current global health crisis and continues to adapt to the travel restrictions in force. Considering the recovery of air travel expected over the summer, Air France announced the increase of services to leisure destinations: 81 seasonal routes in France, Europe, and North Africa and 98 weekly flights to the French Overseas Territories, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean.
By the end of 2021, Air France plans to add 19 new-generation aircraft to its fleet (13 Airbus A350 and 6 Airbus A220) and equip with the new travel cabins 12 Boeing B777-300 aircraft serving the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.
During its long history, Air France was involved in 13 fatal accidents, the first one taking place in 1949, and the last one on the 1st of June, 2009, when Air France Flight 447 was lost over the Atlantic Ocean and all the 228 people on board perished.