Air France (formally Société Air France, S.A.), stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, (north of Paris). It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. As of 2013 Air France serves 36 destinations in France and operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to 168 destinations in 93 countries (including Overseas departments and territories of France) and also carried 59,513,000 passengers in 2011. The airline's global hub is at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, with Paris Orly Airport, Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, Marseille Provence Airport, Toulouse Blagnac Airport, and Nice Côte d'Azur Airport serving as secondary hubs. Air France's corporate headquarters, previously in Montparnasse, Paris, are located on the grounds of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris.
Air France was formed on 7 October 1933 from a merger of Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA).
During the Cold War, from 1950 until 1990, Air France was one of the three main Allied scheduled airlines operating in Germany at West Berlin's Tempelhof and Tegel airports.
In 1990, Air France acquired the operations of French domestic carrier Air Inter and international rival UTA – Union de Transports Aériens.
Air France served as France's primary national flag carrier for seven decades prior to its 2003 merger with KLM.
Between April 2001 and March 2002, the airline carried 43.3 million passengers and had a total revenue of €12.53bn. In November 2004, Air France ranked as the largest European airline with 25.5% total market share, and was the largest airline in the world in terms of operating revenue.
Air France operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing widebody jets on long-haul routes, and uses Airbus A320 family aircraft on short-haul routes. Air France introduced the A380 on 20 November 2009 with service to New York's JFK Airport from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport. The carrier's regional airline subsidiary, HOP!, operates the majority of its regional domestic and European scheduled services with a fleet of regional jet aircraft.
The inauguration of the Aérogare des Invalides on 21 August 1951
Air France was formed on 7 October 1933, from a merger of Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA) and Société Générale des Transports Aériens (SGTA). Of these airlines, SGTA was the first commercial airline company in France, having been founded as Lignes Aériennes Farman in 1919. The constituent members of Air France had already built extensive networks across Europe, to French colonies in North Africa and farther afield. During World War II, Air France moved its operations to Casablanca (Morocco).
On 26 June 1945 all of France's air transport companies were nationalised. On 29 December 1945, a decree of the French government granted Air France the management of the entire French air transport network. Air France appointed its first flight attendants in 1946. The same year the airline opened its first air terminal at Les Invalides in central Paris. It was linked to Paris Le Bourget Airport, Air France's first operations and engineering base, by coach. At that time the network covered 160,000 km, claimed to be the longest in the world. Société Nationale Air France was set up on 1 January 1946.
European schedules were initially operated by a fleet of Douglas DC-3 aircraft. On 1 July 1946, Air France started direct flights between Paris and New York via refuelling stops at Shannon and Gander. Douglas DC-4 piston-engine airliners covered the route in just under 20 hours. In September 1947 Air France's network stretched east from New York, Fort de France and Buenos Aires to Shanghai.
By 1948 Air France operated 130 aircraft, one of the largest fleets in the world. Between 1947 and 1965 the airline operated Lockheed Constellations on passenger and cargo services worldwide. In 1946 and 1948, respectively, the French government authorised the creation of two private airlines: Transports Aériens Internationaux – later Transports Aériens
Intercontinentaux – (TAI) and SATI. In 1949 the latter became part of Union Aéromaritime de Transport (UAT), a private French international airline.
Compagnie Nationale Air France was created by act of parliament on 16 June 1948. Initially, the government held 70%. In subsequent years the French state's direct and indirect shareholdings reached almost 100%. In mid-2002 the state held 54%.
On 4 August 1948 Max Hymans was appointed president. During his 13-year tenure he would implement modernisation practices centred on the introduction of jet aircraft. In 1949 the company became a co-founder of Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA), an airline telecommunications services company.