Air France’s New (Delusional?) Airline, Joon

Last year Air France first announced their intentions to launch a low cost carrier, assuming they could get their unions onboard with it (which was the biggest obstacle). Low cost carriers are all the rage nowadays, as Lufthansa has Eurowings and British Airways (or more accurately, IAG, their parent company) has LEVEL.

Well, it was announced today that Air France’s new low cost carrier, Joon, will be launching this fall. Here’s a promotional video about the new airline, which doesn’t reveal a whole lot:

Joon will be based at Paris Charles de Gaulle, and will begin operating medium-haul services in fall 2017, and long-haul services in summer 2018.

Air France will be hiring new (lower cost) flight attendants for Joon, while they’ll use Air France pilots for this operation, so there will be limited cost savings there.

Air France is targeting millennials hard with this:

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 is a lifestyle brand and a state of mind. Short, punchy and international, the name Joon is designed to address a worldwide audience.

Its visual identity is based on an electric blue colour code symbolizing the airline’s dynamic attitude, as well as the sky, space and travel. The uniform of Joon’s flight attendants will be inspired by the new fashion codes, basic and chic.

Air France insists that Joon will not be a low cost airline, but rather will “offer original products and service that reflect those of Air France.”

I love Air France, but I think they’re being exceedingly delusional here, as are most companies that try so hard to target millennials. People aren’t going to choose an airline because it’s a “lifestyle brand and a state of mind.” How ridiculous. People are going to choose an airline because of their fares and the quality of the product, and yes, that even includes us millennials.

I’m curious what kind of original products and services they’ll offer. With many airlines offering power ports and wifi (including ultra low cost carriers), what more is an airline targeting millennials going to offer?

So I’ve gotta say that this concept is confusing to me. Obviously this is just marketing, but if they’re not going to be able to achieve significant cost advantages and offer low fares, this doesn’t seem likely to succeed.

Here’s the full press release, in case you want to read more about their almost offensive oversimplification of millennials’ needs.

Bottom line

Hopefully there’s a lot more to Air France’s Joon concept than they’re revealed so far. They’ve lost their mind if they’re counting on us thinking of an Air France subsidiary as a “lifestyle brand.” It’s also a bit alarming that they’re insisting they won’t be a low cost carrier.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see, though I don’t remember the last time I’ve been impressed by a company that tries so hard to market to millennials. And rarely does it work, as Marriott learned when they thought that millennials didn’t want desks in their hotel rooms.

I don’t know how long it will take airlines and hotels to learn that millennials aren’t actually that different than others…

Lastly, if they’re launching in the next few months, I’m disappointed by the lack of details about what planes they’ll fly, what routes they’ll operate, and what they’ll actually do to differentiate their product.

Am I off base? What do you make of what Air France has revealed so far about their Joon concept?

Comments

  1. Reminds me of when President Chirac set up Quaereo as a rival to Google. I actually forgot the name and had to Google it, lol.

    The reminder is based on the fact that this fantasy is almost as delusional as that…

  2. Not off one bit. It’s a joke that these large airlines think they can come up with a “new airline” seemingly so quickly and with little thought. Between this and Level, I hope their companies learn a lesson and reap what they sow.

  3. It’s a little bit confusing that this new airline will have medium hall too (Air France already has Transavia France).
    Rumors were that KLM will transfer it’s A350 order to AF for this new LCC (getting in return AFs 787s), especially because KLM does not plan to operate the type before 2020.

  4. I’m envisioning a hybrid of Virgin America with the mood lighting, mini-bar and entertainment, but a more relaxed and fun flight crew like some of Southwest’s folks that rap, make jokes and sing. (If they’re letting the flight attendants wear white sneakers and flats, it’s definitely not as formal! On that note, kudos to them for allowing more comfortable footwear.) I’d fly Joon as a just barely millennial 33 year old.

  5. They will be using A350 apparently, and maybe some A330 at the beginning. The A350 look like it will have a business class with the same seats as United Polaris.
    I agree it’s a lot of buzzwords and little info though, but I’m very curious to see what they’re going to come up with. Still could be a fun product.

  6. I’m a millennial and make my choice of LCC based solely on the crew uniforms. Fares, schedule, hard product etc are not a factor.

  7. They’ll be flying short-haul flights on 18 A320 this fall and long-haul flights on 10 A340 and later A350 starting in the summer 2018 according to French news.

  8. I guess they’ve noticed (amongst others) easyJet’s attempt at being cool, with their Generation easyJet campaign.

    I’m imagining commercials with lots of selfies, blogging etc. It might actually work if they differentiated the product enough – flexible tickets, free wifi, on-board bar, ordering to seat via mobile, that kind of stuff. I can dream!

  9. JOON certainly looks a bit half-baked, but I have to say that LEVEL seems like a much better thought out brand proposition than this (just to counter the inevitable critiscism of it that will arise in these comments!)

  10. Marketing towards millennials is just another spin on cost cutting. Investors seem to buy the fact that millennials like getting less stuff for the same price. Unfortunately that’s not so surprising given what’s in the media about millennials.

  11. Based on the press release and some of the knowledgeable comments here, I’m envisioning something more like VS, but from AF. You know, mood lighting, hip uniforms, potentially good soft product. But when it comes to brand description and business plan, the more buzzwords I see the less inclined I am to think the company actually knows what they’re doing. It’s like claiming, “We’re going to be the Uber of [similar-but-slightly-different product]!” And the public replies with “There’s already an Uber…what makes you different?”

    No amount of buzzwords and semi-slick marketing is going to make up for the lack of a plan. And this looks just like that. The fact that they tout the brand color, Electric Blue, as some sort of hallmark is VERY telling that AF don’t have the slightest clue what they’re getting into.

  12. While I partly agree with you, I also think that a brand like Virgin Atlantic survives mostly thanks to its hip vibe (which is very well executed through great service). I think it’s a gamble, but if it pays off it could be great. In the end, Norwegian has the same sort of proposition and it appeals to Millennials more than other brands IMO

  13. Air France is really losing out on the low-cost airline business. If they were smart, Joon would be a low-cost airline. They are going to lose a lot of business to Lufthansa’s Eurowings, British Airways’ LEVEL and the other European LCC’s.

  14. Totally agree with Lucky. First of all the name, Joon?? It’s a popular Korean surname according to Google! And it’s for Millenials? So there will be an onboard selfie wall and the inflight snack features avocado toast? What utter nonsense. They already have Hop! ( with the funky, youthful exclamation mark!) and Transavia as well. If all they have to tell us is that funky electric blue is their colour, but nothing about planes, services, routes etc., then it’s not a very well though out launch!

  15. Features :
    -You can tack your fare onto your student loans instead of paying upfront for perceived affordability
    -The destination isn’t announced until halfway through the flight, spontaneous fun!
    -FAs take your meal order by text, the meal is delivered by drone within 2 days
    -No need to select in flight entertainment, it’s selected for you by this month’s featured YouTuber!
    -Headphones covered in glitter. SO MUCH GLITTER.
    -Succulent plants decorate the cabin, and provide carbon offsets, perhaps!

  16. Lucky wrote “Am I off base? What do you make of what Air France has revealed so far about their Joon concept?”

    I don’t think Lucky is off base in his criticism. However the missing point is the large effect unions possess in corporate France.

    When I look at Joon presser, i think immediately that this is the airline concept from numerous rank and file employee suggestions, especially the flight attendant group. The employees want to work for a young hip airline with cutting edge relaxed clothes.

    The flight attendants don’t want the new airline to become AF Carribean service with 468 seat high density 77W with all economy 10 abreast past door L2.

    The bigger question: Is the presser selling to customers or future staff? I think the presser is for future staff. The Joon concept would appeal to the young early millenial crew member looking to get into the ground floor. Conversely, the Joon presser would discourage the 35+ midlevel AF crew member looking to get into a coveted longhaul service director role. For Joon to be successful, AF corporate must dissuade the 35+ crew member with 15 years experience as this person comes with a lot of “baggage” regarding their job position requirements and perks.

  17. Hmm. Aimed toward millennials? So that means that they don’t have to pay for flights (because they’re entitled) and there’s lots of free stuff onboard?

  18. Joon, Jeune, Jeans, Jeanie, Kim Joon Il, Hop!, Hip!, Transavia, Flip, FLOP, FLUNK,

    Wait until Joon’s wifi comes in at LCC profit generating prices (isn’t it the objective ?) or Joon finds all kinds of pretexts to deny EC 261 compensation, or Qatar, Etihad, Easyjet, Wizz, Emirates, Eurowings and others come with targeted offers at half Joon’s price.

    Laughable an grotesque…

  19. I am so tired of race to the bottom low cost versions of airlines. Makes me want to puke. Why don’t they just get those really tight seats and cram them in the back half of regular AF planes and call it ‘basic economy’. Good enough for United. Then again I’m part of the previously largest demographic cohort, the baby boomers.

  20. Air France’s fundamental problem is the French idea that businesses exist primarily for social reasons instead of economic ones. That idea works when the taxpayer will pay for any and all losses. Luckily, that approach to business is changing but Air France is not the agile “avant-garde” company to take advantage of these changing times. What you see with Joon and its marketing are products of the people from IVY League-like schools (i.e., HEC) who are still thinking in terms of the late 1990s. Too bad and too late.

  21. They should have an airline for older folks, too. No solid food and twenty daily flights to Florida.

  22. Being French and having flown on AF quite a bit in the past few years, I honestly don’t understand at all where AF is going with this new airline…

    Apparently, Joon will be flying medium-haul flights from CDG starting this autumn. (see e.g. this Business Insider article : http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/joon-air-france-new-airline-millennials-2017-7/ ) Okay, why not. But long-haul flights starting in summer next year, also from CDG?! This is where I don’t get it. I thought AF’s major problem was its relative lack of profitability on the intra-Europe market – a problem which probably will only get worse, as LH is already well ahead of AF on replacing it’s A320ceo’s with A320neo’s and Ryanair/easyJet are still expanding – but AF will not be deciding on how to deal with its A320ceo fleet until 2018. And don’t even get me started on how the regional airline HOP! is still three different airlines with umpteen different aircraft types… Besides, AFAIK, AF’s long-haul operation runs mostly fine, and is not terribly unprofitable (at least by AF standards).

    Oh, and “Joon” sounds kind of silly in French to me… and I’m a millennial.

  23. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our name or competitors… It lies in our delivering sloppy LCC service at High Level prices when less greedy airlines strive to beat us on both High Product and Affordable Prices. That we sink is obvious but we deserve it and only pretend not to know the cause. Go ME3 !

  24. Why an other name in the Air France-KLM group? They have HOP, transavia, KLM cityhopper besides KLM and Air France. Invest more in Transavia for short/medium and long haul and make it a real low cost carrier.

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