Joon, the airline searching for purpose, to shut down

Air France in 2016 unveiled its new low cost subsidiary which they called Joon. It’s aim was to win market share back. The word “Joon” is meant to sound like “jeune” which is French for “young“. 

Rolled out as a “new generation travel experience”, a low cost carrier for Mellinials, It therefore aimed to attract a new market to flying -at a cheap rate, it aimed to attract a new market to flying -at a cheap rate.

On board, Joon offered VR-headset entertainment, allowed access to inflight streaming, had cabin crew dressed in “trendy” clothes made from recycled plastic bottles. Joon has free catering in their Business cabin and a “modern” pay per item menu in Economy which included vitamin-filled smoothies made of 100 per cent fruit”.

The airline had so far targeted key cities across Europe and further afield to  South America, the Middle East and Africa. In some cases, Joon supplements Air France and at some times they replaced a main line service.

The aircraft (A318s, A320s and A340s came from Air France. Joon has orders in fir A350s. The pilots were also from the main carrier and were paid their full rate which meant no cost saving there! While, Flight attendants are paid way less than their Air France counterparts, the other factors make it too hard to be a low cost carrier. And this is one of their problems.

From their very first flight in 2017, I have never been able to work Joon’s rationale as little made sense about the airline. Joon felt like the result of a marketing committee brainstorm having been told they needed to set up a low cost carrier while attracting younger passengers. Jean-Michel Mathieu, CEO of Joon said “To create Joon, we worked together to define a new offer in the air transport industry, in a spirit of creativity, innovation and agility

So what did that say about Air France “mainline“-is it an airline for old fuddy duddies without creativity or innovation? Was I as a non Millennial welcome on Joon or was I meant to spend more over at the Mainline Air France? Terrible messaging.

Air France was once known for their style, quality and sophistication. Would it not have been better to have built that brand rather than confusing the market with a new carrier which would potentially cannibalise passengers and relegate Air France to a dustbin of irrelevance.

The new CEO of Air France-KLM, Ben Smith thinks so. Hot on the heels of a number of other good decisions, he is shutting down off Joon, just as the new carrier celebrated one year. I think doing so, before it damages Air France any further: the brand was difficult to understand from the outset for customers, for employees, for markets and for investors…The plurality of brands in the marketplace has created much complexity and unfortunately weakened the power of the Air France brand.”

The planes and pilots will return to Air France and flight attendants will enjoy a big boost as they move to the same employment agreement as Air France. Flights will steadily switch back to being Air France branded and operated.

Ben Smith comes from a long history at Air Canada and has run his own corporate travel agency so he understands about pleaseing customers. Under his leadership Air Canada has been declared the best airline in North America seven times at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. He is responsible for overseeing Air France and KLM who operate separately and are not known for their good relationship.

Since starting in September 2018, he has announced the reduction in the Air France A380 fleet by half, the refurbishment of the remaining 380 cabins by 2020 and overseen the appointment of Air France’s first female CEO Anne Rigail and signed new employment agreements with cabin and ground staff, hopefully resolving the bitter disputes the carrier had with its staff last year.

I am looking forward to seeing what else he has in store and will shed no tears for the “demise” of Joon.


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