Joon: Europe's (compromise) newest airline manages to break all the LCC subsidiary start-up rules

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Europe's newest airline, Joon, took to the skies on 1-Dec-2017 from Paris CDG on routes currently operated by its parent Air France. Its first routes were to Barcelona, Berlin Tegel, Lisbon and Porto, deploying A320 aircraft transferred from Air France.

Joon was established by Air France on 20-July-2017, after an agreement allowing its creation was reached with unions - not an ideal formula for a low cost airline. It will provide service to Air France under a wet lease agreement, operating certain scheduled flights from CDG on behalf of its parent company.

Joon is Air France's modest response to the high level of competition in the airline industry, particularly from Gulf airlines on long haul. Long haul routes will be added in summer 2018, initially to Cairo, Cape Town, Tehran, Fortaleza and Seychelles.

With Joon, Air France hopes to reduce costs and achieve a targeted increase in its customer base. Air France's growth has been constrained by weak financial performance for many years, and Joon is intended to offer it the chance to grow again.

However, Joon is not a low cost airline, merely lower cost. It is joined at the hip to its parent; it doesn't even have a separate website and there is lots of common activity with its parent. Moreover, its growth is limited to a fleet of 28 aircraft (18 narrowbodies and 10 widebodies). Its compromise is to aim at a "millennial" market segment and bears all the signs of a compromise airline. It has been called "Le Song", recalling the failed Delta subsidiary, which had similar but compromised trendy ideas.

Still, times have changed. It may still have a future as a substitute for Air France on more marginal medium/long haul routes. But Air France needs so much more than that.

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