MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Air Liberté (IJ) and AOM (IW) are renamed Air Lib in 2001. IJ and IW had been formally merged by owners SAirGroup on March 25, initially taking the name Société d’exploitation AOM Air Liberté SA.
The carrier was then restructured as a low-cost carrier in order to compete with easyJet (U2) and Ryanair (FR) who were rapidly expanding in the French market. Despite being granted a loan of €30.5 million by the French Government, the airline was forced to declare bankruptcy in August 2002. It was subsequently liquidated on February 17, 2003.
Air Liberté began operations in April 1988. With a fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-83s, IJ flew to holiday destinations across Europe from Paris Orly (ORY). In 1997 British Airways (BA) acquired a majority shareholding. It then merged the airline with its French regional subsidiary TAT European Airlines (VD).
IJs precarious financial position led BA to sell the airline to Swissair’s (SR) parent group SAirGroup in May 2000.
AOM French Airlines
Air Outre-Mer or AOM, began operations on May 21, 1990, flying from ORY to Reunion Island. On January 1, 1992, AOM was merged with another French operator Minerve. By 1995 the airline was carrying over two million passengers with a fleet of eight MD-83s and 14 DC-10s.
SR took a 49% shareholding in February 1999. This was part of its “Hunter Strategy” as it looked to grow market share by the acquisition of smaller airlines.
Featured image: Following the rebranding of Air Lib the carrier also began to introduce a new livery of blue and orange said to symbolize the sun shining above the ocean. (Photo: Med777~commonswiki, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)