DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Air France (AF) was officially inaugurated at Le Bourget Airport (LBG) in 1933 after the merger of a number of independent French airlines.
Aviation in the country can trace its history back to 1909 and the formation of Compagnie Générale Transaérienne which used airships and seaplanes.
Following the end of World War One, various independent airlines began to appear, leaving the country with a disjointed aviation market. The French government stepped in to organize the sector and reduce losses.
This left the country with Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA). With a more structured industry, these airlines then began to expand their networks. New routes were opened across Europe, Africa, the Far East, and South America.
Air France is Born
The financial crash of the early 1930s severely impacted the burgeoning aviation industry. Pierre Cot, the French Minister of Aviation, set about a major restructuring in 1933. This led to the merger of the independent airlines under one company known as Air France. The new airline took the Air Orient winged seahorse logo and moved into the company’s offices at 2, rue Marbeuf in Paris.
Air France inherited a network covering 37,800 km and a varied fleet of 259 aircraft. Management immediately set about streamlining the new airline and improving comfort and safety for its passengers. This included the introduction of onboard stewards.
Featured image: Air France SNCASE SE.161 Languedoc. Photo: Air France collection