Air France has called the Airbus A350 is "the new jewel" in its long-haul fleet. (Photo: Air France)

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Air France (AF) was officially inaugurated at Le Bourget Airport (LBG) 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.

An Air Union Farman Goliath ‘Gascogne.’ The Goliath was one of the first aircraft equipped for night flying. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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 37,800km network 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. 

The seahorse logo was inherited from Air Orient. Formed from the bust of Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, and the tail of Annam’s dragon, the logo evokes both power and speed and adorns all aircraft in the Air France fleet. (Photo: Air France)