Air France was established on this day 90 years ago. Air France has a long history and has been a major force in the global air travel industry as well as a representation of French aviation excellence.
Let’s go back in time to discover the amazing story of how Air France first took to the skies and eventually grew to become one of the most recognizable and well-respected airlines in the world.
One of the oldest and most well-known airlines in the world, Air France has a long and fascinating past. It was initially established in 1933 when the five major French airlines of the time—Air Orient, Air Union, Farman Lines, CIDNA, and the air mail company Aéropostale—were merged under the direction of French Air Minister Pierre Cot.
With the inclusion of a stylized seahorse, the emblem of Air Orient, this aspect of its history can still be seen in the livery of its aircraft.
The airline was nationalized by the French government at the end of World War II, which until that point owned about 25% of its capital. On July 2, 1946, an Air France Douglas DC-4 completed the airline’s first transatlantic flight from Paris to New York in 23 hours and 45 minutes.
Air France relocated from its historic birthplace of Le Bourget to Orly Airport in 1952, and a year later it became one of the first airlines to enter the jet age. On flights to Beirut in Lebanon, the short-lived British de Havilland Comet series 1A was introduced. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Caravelle and the Boeing 707 quickly followed.
In order to densify France’s domestic network, Air France and the French railway state company SNCF founded Air Inter in 1954.
When the first terminal of Charles de Gaulle Airport, which would later become the principal aviation hub of Paris, opened in 1974, it was time for Air France to relocate once more.
Photo Cover Credit: Peter Nath, Wikimedia Commons