Air France is set to move forward with its “Boost” airline within an airline plan following approval from its pilot union. Nearly 80% of those voting approved the move, the carrier announced today. In a statement Air France-KLM indicated that the agreement “will enable the Group to continue its recovery and give it the means to resume the offensive.” The “Boost” project is still expected to take flight later this year.
“I welcome the spirit of responsibility shown by the Air France pilots. This agreement is the result of lengthy negotiations, which have resulted in a balanced compromise in favour of the interests of the company and all its employees. This milestone is part of Trust Together’s growth and recovery trajectory, driven in particular by the project for the new airline”,said Jean-Marc Janaillac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM.
When it was announced in November 2016 Boost was intended to both augment and replace existing services flown under the Air France brand today.
It will offer its customers business and leisure destinations with standards comparable to those of Air France in terms of product quality and the professionalism of the crews.
The new company will also serve as a laboratory for the Group’s innovative ability in terms of products, digital and technology, catering, cabin design, services and the customer experience, as well as for working methods.
That remains the plan, according to Janaillac. Boost will fly as a new brand but one that is “highly connected to our Air France brand,” he explained at the IATA AGM in June. And boost is most definitely not an LCC operation. Transavia continues to operate in that role, flying point-to-point operations and connecting to certain hub operations at Paris-Orly. At Charles de Gaulle airport, however, the feed will come from Boost, not Transavia.
The pure low-cost brand is different from hub-feeding activities. Boost will be dedicated to feed the hub at CDG. Transavia is dedicated for point-to-point low cost markets and leisure markets and will fly from Orly and other French bases.
Among the interesting bits in this plan is that Boost will operate A350s originally planned to fly for Air France. Generally when I think of “feeding” a hub operation that comes in the form of short-haul and medium-haul flights, not 300ish seat twin-aisle aircraft. And unlike Lufthansa Group, which has some Eurowings aircraft operating point-to-point long-haul, this is hub operations. Lufthansa does have some A340-300s operating on hub-based long-haul routes (e.g. FRA-SJC) using the CityLine operating certificate and crew contracts but those carry the typical Lufthansa branding; the Boost project will be different.
So, a separate brand, but tightly integrated. Cheaper operating costs, but comparable product. Adding new routes, but also replacing legacy Air France service on others. I’m really confused as to why they don’t just run these planes under Air France branding with the separate work rules to drop costs. Launching another brand for 30ish aircraft seems most bizarre to me, especially when it isn’t supposed to be very different.
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Easier to sell it to the labor groups when it’s a different brand?
Seth, I agree with you. Another way to think of it: They are going to invest a lot of money creating and supporting a brand for people who supposedly care about price (i.e., not brand) above all else, and then everyone will just be confused. (One of my favorite moments on a UA “Ted” flight was when a customer a couple rows in front of me asked a FA: “What exactly IS Ted?” The FA’s answer: “We don’t know either.”) IB did it right with Iberia Express – yes, I know that’s just shorthaul, but my point is that they got the cost savings they wanted and then didn’t waste money creating a new brand (and a bunch of confusion). If I were AF, I would now say to the pilots: “Okay, thank you. Now actually, we are about to spend €100 million (or whatever) creating and supporting this separate brand. What if we split the difference with you and give you back €50 million – we just call it Air France, and everybody wins.”
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