Aurélien Fleurot, edited by Loane Nader // photo credit: Thomas SAMSON / AFP 06:20, 08 October 2023

This Saturday, Air France celebrated its 90th anniversary. The emblematic French airline has experienced good times, but also some great turbulence. In great difficulty during the Covid pandemic, it now seems to be in great shape and has just announced the largest contract in the history of the Air France-KLM group.

On October 7, 1933, the emblematic Air France company was born at Le Bourget. The emblem was already there: the winged seahorse, a symbol of power and speed. Between Air Inter, the competition and the Concorde, Air France has gone through the turbulence of the air sector.

But the company came close to bankruptcy in the early 1990s, as Arnaud Aymé, an airline specialist at Sia Partners, recalls. "The situation of the airline sector in general, and Air France in particular, was really difficult at the end of the Gulf War. Traffic had decreased and in 1994 the company was very close to filing for bankruptcy and had to be recapitalised by the French state," explains the expert.

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50 new Airbus A350s

Then, of course, came the rebound and the time of strategic partnerships with Accor and Delta Airlines and, in 2004, the merger with KLM. Synergies took many years to be found, but the Air France-KLM group is now solid and is largely renewing its fleet. The latter now has 50 Airbus A350s among its ranks, which have just been ordered. State-guaranteed loans are repaid, which makes it possible to invest and strengthen with 20% of the Scandinavian company now in SAS.