Just earlier this week Air France secured the final union approvals to launch its new “Boost” airline-within-an-airline operation. Today the name and branding were introduced. Say bonjour to Joon, the new Air France brand that will begin flying mid-haul flights out of Air France’s Paris-CDG hub in Autumn
Here’s how the company describes the new brand:
Joon is especially aimed at a young working clientele, the millennials (18 to 35 year-olds), whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology. This new brand has been entirely designed to meet their requirements and aspirations, with an authentic and connected offering that stands out in the world of air transport.
Joon will not be a low-cost airline as it will offer original products and services that reflect those of Air France.
The focus on the millennial market translates into how the carrier intends to fit its planes and deliver on product. Details on those aspects remain under wraps for now – we should know more in September – but it is safe to assume that inflight connectivity is part of the plan based on comments from Caroline Fontaine, VP Brand, in the announcement today.
We started with our target customer segment, the millennials, to create this new brand that means something to them… This generation has inspired us a lot: epicurean and connected, they are opportunistic in a positive sense of the word as they know how to enjoy every moment and are in search of quality experiences that they want to share with others. Joon is a brand that carries these values.
So the new carrier will not be the traditional Air France nor will it be an LCC. Jean-Marc Janaillac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM, stated that during a presentation at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Cancun in early June and it was reiterated again in the product announcement today. But what really is the goal of the operation with some 28 aircraft (10 long-haul, 18 short-haul) expected to be flying as Joon by 2020?
In June Janaillac indicated, “Boost will be dedicated to feed the hub at CDG.” In today’s release the company says, “In the Air France-KLM Group’s brand portfolio, Joon is Air France’s complementary younger sister, which will also inspire its customers to travel with its elder sibling.” But that’s not really the whole story.
I have no doubt that the flights and schedules will mesh with the legacy Air France offering. Some destinations will become Joon routes while others will remain Air France. But if the goal is connecting flow then the split personality makes no sense at all. Passengers rarely want a single trip from the same company with multiple different branding experiences along the way. Is there an expectation that passengers will purposefully book to a specific destination because the brand or in-flight product differs from its “elder sibling” rather than because that’s where they want to go?
Joon is about regaining share lost to LCCs and to Gulf carriers.
It will be a hub-and-spoke operation and participate in the existing Air France hub-and-spoke flows. It will benefit from the hub advantages Air France has at CDG today. It will help cut costs and add destinations to the route map. Naturally some of the passengers will mix across the two. But that’s because flights will be sold in an integrated manner, not because customers will be “inspired” for such.
Many of the changes coming with the Joon product are things passengers throughout the Air France operation would likely benefit from. Inflight connectivity, for example, is not something that only millennials find useful and convenient. An updated take on dining could mean more buy-on-board – typically a tough sell on mid/long-haul flights that are non-LCC – or a change towards a more modern dining experience, akin to the “Marché de Jean Imbert” a la carte menu coach passengers can pay extra for today. Entertainment could be a mix of streaming content to phones/tablets and, at least for long-haul, in-seat screens. Or maybe something else; that segment of the market is evolving at a rapid (by airline standards) pace in response to LCCs. We’re incredibly unlikely to see a first class cabin on the Joon A350s (maybe that’s already confirmed but I don’t recall seeing it yet). And Air France is already flying some of its 777s in that layout (no, not the CIO ones that were always more crowded). Again, something that makes sense to the larger fleet, not just the Joon operation.
Pretending this move is about millennials and not about cutting costs or shifting the overall product to where the market sits seems slightly disingenuous to me. So does claiming it is about building feed. Especially when the opportunity to modernize the entire operation is ripe for the taking.
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