It’s Official: Air France Is Ending Joon

In December 2017, Air France launched Joon, a new low cost carrier targeted at millennials. Over the years we’ve seen lots of airlines launch low cost carriers, some of which have been successful, and some of which haven’t.

What is Joon?

In the case of Joon, there was actually very little that made it unique. 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?

The reality is that Joon was clearly formed just as a method for cutting costs. When airlines form ultra low cost carriers they typically achieve cost savings by hiring crews under cheaper contracts.

In the case of Joon, the pilots were transferred over from Air France and maintained their existing contracts, so there were no cost savings there. Meanwhile the flight attendants were being paid roughly 40% less than Air France flight attendants.

Rumors of Joon’s demise

Several months ago Air France-KLM hired Ben Smith as CEO, who is the airline executive I have more respect for than any other. He was previously at Air Canada, and had a fresh, outsider’s perspective on the company, which is what Air France oh-so-desperately needed.

As I noted last October, he saw many opportunities for Air France-KLM which might have seemed obvious to outsiders all along. One of the changes under consideration was eliminating Joon.

The way Smith saw it, it wasn’t worth the confusion it caused for customers, as well as the brand dilution, given that they were otherwise trying to position Air France as a premium airline.

Air France is eliminating Joon

While we knew Air France was considering eliminating Joon, it’s now official. La Tribune is reporting that just 13 months after it was launched, Air France intends to discontinue Joon, and an agreement has been signed between management and unions.

With this agreement, the plan is that Air France will take over the planes that they previously provided to Joon (which includes 13 A320s and four A340s), and they’ll also hire the roughly 600 flight attendants who worked for Joon.

Those flight attendants will make significantly more money than before. In the case of the pilots, they were already Air France pilots under the “standard” pay scale, so there won’t be any changes there.

In a letter to employees, Smith explained that Air France needs to focus on being a premium carrier, and the inconsistency created by Joon simply wasn’t worth it, where a flight one day was operated by a Joon plane, while the next day being operated by an Air France plane. He also acknowledges that Air France is one of the few major airlines without fully flat beds in business class on all planes, and they’re working on improving that.

Bottom line

It’s so refreshing to see Air France-KLM run by someone who “gets it.” Also keep in mind that one of the biggest issues that Air France has historically had has involved their labor contracts.

I think there’s no one better to negotiate with the unions than Smith, given that he’s not a stand-offish guy, and also given that he doesn’t view this as an us vs. them situation.

I suspect he’s also earning some bonus points with the unions for integrating the work groups and hiring significantly more “mainline” flight attendants, and hopefully that pays off for the airline as well.

What remains to be seen now is the exact timeline with which the Joon brand will be terminated.

What do you make of the Joon brand being discontinued?

Comments

  1. I assume all Joon operated flights will just be folded back into Air France? I have a Joon operated flight in February – do we think the shutdown will happen before then?

  2. Finally.
    I live just a mile away from BUD. Since Malév bankrupted, all full service airlines look at it as a third world country. BUD was one of the few intraeuropean markets, where all flights were changed from Air France to Joon. Also one of the few EU destinations, served by BA from LHR T3 instead of T5. Until last year, TK used their eurobusiness seated plane on one of the daily flights to BUD.

    Btw I liked the wifi-based IFE on Joon. AF should merge that to their own app. Also mileage earning, lounge access were the same. Only difference was the catering, which was limited to one cup of coffee, orange juice, tea or water.

  3. What a stupid concept Joon was. Not a single, “airline within an airline” has ever really succeeded.

  4. The Millennial kid coming back to live with their parents because the old farts screwed up the economy and stole all the money.

  5. I don’t think anyone will shed a tear on that point, it’s a win-win for Smith. The brand probably wasn’t making any money, he gets good points with the unions and the attendants who get more money, and he focuses on his core strategy.

  6. Really smart! Now he “gave” the unions something as he can use to “take” away something from the workers in Air France , that will save much more money in the end then the Joon-experimemt did. As an Swedish Flying Blue frequet flyer I like this! Stockholm will get back AF metall and real business class.

  7. The only thing Ben Smith gets is cutting costs.
    He decimated the Air Canada product, was hated by front line employees whose benefits he cut, and will do the same with AF.

    But hey, they will make a hefty profit!

  8. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith will soon find out that the French are overly pragmatic and melancholic people and they will always look at everything in business as us vs them.

  9. Thank god. I was on a JOON fligjt in J from cdg to fco a few weeks ago and i couldn’t understand the difference between mainline Air France and Joon. It certainly confused me with success. The whole “new generation” thing wasn’t working out.

  10. @LNYC depends how you look at LH Group.. Swiss is successful and they have Edelweiss as a “standalone” airline that works quite well… Let’s see how they get on with Eurowings. But indeed not a big surprise that the rooftop concept didn’t work!

  11. So basically what Smith just heavily implied is that Air Canada is not a premium carrier, for it was he who started this race to the bottom in 2013 with the launch of low cost Rouge! My how the worm has turned.

  12. Good! It was a ridiculous idea with weird branding and a very random network.

    @Lucky:
    One of my pet peeves on this blog is that you always refer to low cost carriers as ULCCS. Low cost carriers come in two forms: LCC (eg Norwegian & EasyJet), and ULCC (eg Ryanair & Spirit). It has to do with what they offer, where they fly, what perks are included or paid for etc. I for one have no problem booking Norwegian or easyJet, but wouldn’t touch Ryanair, Spirit or Wizzair.

  13. Maybe Smith will create something like AC Rouge which has worked out quite well. The flight attendants are all young and helpful. Not like AC’s “premium”carrier attendants several who probably were on Noah’s Ark. AC’s premium service biz class is competitive with most other Western carriers. Not as good as most East Asian carriers with the exception of the Chinese carriers and other former communist airlines where the service and food are still awful.

  14. I beg to differ with leading opinion here. I do not see this as good news in any way for Air France.

    Yes Joon marketing was absurd. Yes its brand was nonsense. Yes its network was strange.

    However its only purpose was to reduce costs. And it did meet that goal. It brought confusion on customers part because connecting customers could fly one leg on each airline (but contrary to what was said above, destinations were split so that flights on a same route would not alternate between Joon and AF).

    The 600 cabin crew are clear winners from this agreement. Good for them. What I cannot seem to understand is how this helps in any way to solve Air France key issue, that is unit costs. Ben should be working at lowering costs not increasing them if he wants to give the airline any chance to survive. Or is it his aim to down-size the airline to a small niche luxury player? Then the job destructions will be simply massive.

  15. AC Rouge sucks, surprised to see a positive review. Old planes, no room, no entertainment. I know more than a few people who will go out of their way to book connecting flights to avoid Rouge. There really isn’t any savings either.

    One of the previous comments said it best, these airlines within an airline almost never work. Let mainline carries be who they are and low-cost carriers be who they are.

  16. Just sharing My experience as seasoned flyer; NEVER flown a European airline with such a INCOMPETENT / INSULANT /LACKLUSTRE /DONT GIVE MONKEYS Attitude Crew !!!! and this is NOT based on just A trip on JOON , it’s has been a joke from the start and the Business class section is an insult to anyone with half brain !

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