Air France Discontinues Low Cost Airline Today

Filed Under: Air France/KLM

The day has finally come. Today Air France’s low cost carrier experiment comes to an end, as the airline dumps the Joon brand.

https://twitter.com/weflyjoon/status/1143793313004343296

Why did Air France launch Joon?

Joon was a low cost carrier launched by Air France in December 2017. It operated both short and long haul flights. The thing is, there’s very little that actually made the airline unique.

The real reason Air France launched the airline was because it allowed them to reduce costs. They were able to hire flight attendants under a cheaper contract (they cost the airline about 40% less), which is the motivation for a lot of airlines launching these types of airlines. Meanwhile the pilots were transferred over from Air France, and maintained their contracts.

They really tried to market themselves as something unique though. Joon claimed to be a fashion designer, a rooftop bar, an entertainment channel, a personal assistant, and oh, an airline!

The flight attendants wore more casual clothes, they had organic snacks for sale on board, and they had virtual reality headsets in longhaul business class. Yay?

Why did Air France discontinue Joon?

At the beginning of the year Air France announced they’d discontinue Joon. This was the idea of Ben Smith, who became CEO of Air France-KLM just under a year ago.

Why was Joon discontinued? Smith wants to position Air France as a premium brand, and didn’t think the cost savings were worth the confusion it caused for customers, as well as the brand dilution.

No one is losing their job — Air France is taking over all 17 Joon planes (13 A320s and four A340s), and all flight attendants and pilots get moved over. The pilots maintain their pay, while the flight attendants are getting a huge pay raise.

If anything, this was a very nice gesture of goodwill on Smith’s part towards the unions. One of the big challenges the airline has faced is contract negotiations, and this goodwill went a long way in showing how he wanted to position the airline, and how he wanted to work with employees.

Bottom line

Joon is sailing flying into the sunset just over 18 months after it launched. It’s nice to see an airline countering the trend and actually trying to position themselves in a premium way and throw a bone to employees, rather than focus on saving money at the expense of decent wages.

It shouldn’t take long for any traces of Joon to be gone, since there wasn’t actually much that made these planes different — they’ll just need a new paint job, and that’s about it.

Did you have the chance to fly Joon before it was discontinued?

Comments
  1. Good for the Joon flight attendants and their significant pay increases. I never really got it either: their marketing was so cringe-worthy, the classic case of trying too hard to appeal to the younger generation. An airline calling itself a “life-style brand?” If anything, the closest an airline has gotten to a life-style brand is Norwegian since I’ve noticed that they now have a good brand recognition in the US as a cheap/no-frills option to cross the Atlantic.

  2. I’ve been in this business for 20 years but never really paid much attention to branding. I used to think it was much ado about nothing. But the older I get, the more I realize it matters.

    The worst thing about the carrier-within-a-carrier concept from a branding perspective is that it actually signals people to stay away. In Europe (or US, it doesn’t matter) if I want the ULCC model, I’ll go straight to EasyJet and Ryanair. I’m fine with what they offer, and buy it from time to time. In fact, I’m actually a fan of anybody who easily lets me buy the extra legroom seat.

    But the problem with “carrier-within-a-carrier” models is that they just confuse the heck out of people. If I’m looking at an established legacy carrier, I’m looking at that carrier because they presumably offer a better product than the ULCC. (Most of the time they don’t, but that’s beside the point.) If I go to LH and see Eurowings, well, what the heck is that? Is it LH or not? If it’s “LH but not really”, then how do I figure out what it is or isn’t? I don’t have the patience for that.

    Stateside, UA screwed the pooch with TED and to a lesser extent, Shuttle by United. It was even worse for elites, where they had different benefits. If I’m booking UA, I want the UA experience (United Express nonwithstanding.) I don’t want to spend time figuring out what’s different about this product and what I’m *not* getting.

  3. If only Air Canada would do the same thing with Rouge, but instead, they’re only expanding it. Now they even have flights between YVR and YYZ/YOW/YUL on Rouge.

  4. I think it’s quite clever of Ben Smith – if joon didn’t work out as a brand, discontinuing it and not laying off any staff is some serious union-shmoosing which (remember the torn shirt guy a few years ago?) is never a mistake in France. Chances are that this improves labour relations and ends brand-weakening at the same time. I guess I’m not the only one to not understand Joon after all, and I’ve only flown them shorthaul on AF tix (both AF coded and priced).
    Regarding premium positioning: judging by some ticket prices, they seem to do that quite well already. Still interesting to see that AF is losing money while KL makes some….maybe they should learn from each other 🙂 I don’t mind AF or KL (actually like them both in shorthaul and find myself booking KL flights instead of LH/OS/LX), I only wish their products to be more consistent (AF old vs new J seats, same with KL regular vs 787). Also, their short haul products are similarly priced yet quite different even in Y. I’m amazed that they don’t line up the catering for instance (talk AF stale croissant vs KL sandwich) – there must be a way to benefit from being one company…

  5. @Lucky,
    I saw on JAL Facebook today an announcement on their low cost medium/long haul carrier ZipAir starting out soon. Do you think they can sustain it in the Asian market or do you see them failing like the low cost European carriers?

  6. I avoided Joon even though I fly a lot between France and Italy. And I’ll probably continue to not fly those routes on AF metal simply because I’m not convinced that they won’t offer the same poor product for a higher cost. If I see anything to convince me that the hard and soft products have been improved, I might change my mind.

  7. Oh, and Eurowings is not discontinuing to fly long haul after all. Flights will go on as usual only that Lufthansa will be managing this flights. Flights from MUC & FRA will codeshare with LH while charter flights will have LH flight numbers only.

    This was clarified today in an interview with airliners.de

  8. They don’t need Joon. With the unions now ‘almost’ in agreement of the expansion of Transavia France, they might go as far as launching Transavia long haul flights. Transavia just like Condor, has been in the market for over 50yrs as a charter and is a well known brand especially in the Netherlands & France.

  9. The A340s will go soon as AF takes delivery of the first A350 in October

    At least AF and KLM still offer a snack service in economy. May not be the best however unlike some with pay on board .. even water

  10. One underreported fact is that JOON cabine was distinct of AF. It’s seat spacing was much more packed up including “Economy Comfort” ones. Hence it is quite uncomfortable once you use one of those JOON planes.

  11. You said the planes just need a paint job, but the planes are configured different in biz unless I’m mistaken? I’ve avoided flying Joon to CPT for this reason as the in flight hard product looked much worse.

  12. Only watching their add video could tell anybody that they would not go far … IMHO

  13. RIP to an ill-conceived and embarrassingly marketed mess! I hope this marks the beginning of the end of these silly appeals to imaginary “Millenial” qualities by airlines and hotels. Marriott take note – you can still put desks in rooms!

  14. Air France still has HOP! and Transavia France, so I guess their brand is a bit less muddy now?

    As per wikipedia, this is the 18th airline to go belly-up this year (if you count subsidiaries like Joon, JetLite, Bulgarian Eagle, etc, as separate entities).

  15. Your title is confusing, Air France low cost airline is still flying and growing: it’s called Transavia. Joon was a lower cost airline, not a low cost airline.

  16. @Dan – You cut straight to the heart of the problem: full service carriers who market flights by their LCC siblings! You cited LH and EuroWings. I’m more familiar with the Australian example, namely QANTAS and their LCC sibling JetStar (a.k.a. ‘the Orange Cancer’).

    I once logged onto the QF website to book a mainline QANTAS route. Would you believe that out of about a dozen flight options for a weekday flight, only two were actually on QANTAS! The others were JetStar. This was not some seldom serviced leisure route. It was a capital city mainline route. Unbelievable. I guess at that time QF management were strongly pushing for JQ. Thank goodness the majority of flights I see on QANTAS are now actually QF operated, so the LCC ‘Orange Cancer’ has receded a lot.

  17. @shaun: Same applies for LH group and their decision to no longer have mainline flights to/from non-hubs. Routes like HAM-AMS, DUS-BCN and so forth are EW operated and basically priced identically to “mainline” routes. No benefits for non-LH group elites, somewhat inferior product. Never could justify to book one of these. If you look at VIE, many routes are served by both EW and OS, identically priced. I take OS for those whenever I can – otherwise no lounge access etc. even if booked under OS code (non-LH *G here).
    If there’s no priority/lounge access, I can as well book easyJet for typically less money and have a very comparable product.
    I think the legacy’s are ultimately driving off pax to the LCCs here. Notably AF/Kl have not been able to do this with HV flights – thankfully.

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