On this day 90 years ago, Air France was born. Throughout its long history, this iconic airline has been a symbol of French aviation excellence and a key player in the global air travel industry. Let’s journey back in time t explore the remarkable story of how Air France took flight and became one of the world’s most renowned and respected airlines.
Air France is one of the world’s oldest and most prominent airlines, with a long, rich history. It was originally founded in 1933 when, under the leadership of French Air Minister Pierre Cot, the five main French airlines of the time were merged: Air Orient, Air Union, Farman Lines, CIDNA, and the air mail company Aéropostale. This aspect of its history can still be seen in the livery of its aircraft, with the inclusion of a stylized seahorse, the logo of Air Orient.
Image: Nick Warner / Flickr.com.
At the end of the Second World War, the airline was nationalized by the French state, which until then held approximately 25% of its capital. The following year, on July 2, 1946, an Air France Douglas DC-4 conducted the airline’s first transatlantic flight from Paris to New York, in 23 hours 45 minutes.
In 1952, Air France moved from its historic birthplace of Le Bourget to Orly Airport, and a year later it became one of the first airlines to enter the jet age. The short-lived British de Havilland Comet series 1A was introduced on flights to Beirut in Lebanon. The Caravelle and the Boeing 707 soon followed, during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1954, Air France, along with the French railway state company SNCF, launched Air Inter, a private airline aiming at densifying France’s domestic network.
By 1974, it was time for Air France to move again, with the opening of the first terminal of Charles de Gaulle Airport, which would later become Paris’ main aviation hub.
The Concorde era
On January 21, 1976, Air France turned supersonic: the first Concorde flight took off from…