Last modified: 2014-05-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: air france | union aeromaritime de transport |
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while the Compagnie Générale
Transaérienne was founded in 1909 to operate dirigibles and
hydroplanes, the first true airline companies were indeed formed short
after the First World War by aircraft manufacturers associated with
bankers. Pierre-Georges Latécoère founded in 1918 the Lignes
Latécoère. TheAéronavale, the Messageries Aériennes, the Grands Express Aériens, the Messageries Transaériennes and the Lignes Farman were founded in 1919, while the Compagnie de Navigation Franco-Roumaine was founded in 1920. These lines were originally dedicated to the transportation of mail to South America (the Santiago line popularized by the pilots Didier Daurat, Jean Mermoz, Henri Guillaumet and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), Asia (Maurice Noguès) and Africa (Jean Dagnaux). Passenger traffic developed slowly (6,786 passengers in 1922); the network served by the French companiesincreased fivefold from 1922 to 1923.
The Ministry of Air, Pierre Cot, restructured the French airlines in 1933: Air Orient, Air Union, the Société Générale de Transport Aérien (ex Lignes Farman) and the CIDNA (ex Franco-Roumaine) were merged into the Société Centrale pour l'Exploitation des Lignes Aériennes (SCELA). On 30 August 1933, the SCELA purchased the bankrupted Aéropostale and was renamed Air France. The new company was officially inaugurated on 7 October 1933 at Le Bourget airport. Air France then operated 259 aircrafts of 31 different types; the fleet was reorganized and modernized with French planes, such as the modern Dewoitine 338. In 1938, Air France operated 100 planes, had the fourth biggest network in the world and transported more than 100,000 passengers per year. There were then four French carriers: Air France (including Air France Transatlantique), the Aéromaritime, Air Afrique, and Air Bleu (dedicated to the postal service). Air France decreased its operations during the Second World War, while the Lignes Aériennes Militaires were created in Damas in 1941.
On 26 June 1945, the French civil aviation was nationalized and Air France became property of the state. By the
Decree of 29 December 1945, Air France was granted the management of
the French civil air network. France joined the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport
Association (IATA), founded in 1945. The French government authorized
the foundation of two new companies, Transports Aériens Internationaux (TAI) in 1946, and SATI in 1948, renamed Union Aéromaritime de
Transport (UAT) in 1949.
The first flight attendants were appointed in 1946; the air terminal of Paris-Invalides, linked to the airport of Le Bourget by coaches, was opened the same year. The Paris-New York line (a 19h50 flight on a DC4) was inaugurated on 1 July 1946. The Air France network covered then 160,000 km, being "the longest in the world". In 1948, Air France, operating then 130 planes, became the Compagnie Nationale Air France, a semi-public company (société d'économie mixte) ruled by the Code of the Civil Aviation. The passenger number then increased by 14% each year. In 1952, the airport of Orly-Sud replaced Le Bourget, deemed too small, and the network extended to 250,000 km. The fleet was modernized with the purchase of the (then) huge Bréguet Deux-Ponts and Lockheed Super Constellation. Champagne and warm meals were provided on board in September 1949.
The domestic company Air Inter was founded on 12 November 1954, with Air France and the national railway company SNCF as its main shareholders (24% each). Its first flight was made on 16 March 1958 between Paris and Strasbourg but regular commercial flights started only in 1960. From 1948 to 1961, Air France was presided by Max Hymans, who is to be credited of the recovery of the company after the Second World War.
In the 1960s, Air France was one of the first companies to operate
jets, using "the two best jets on the biggest network in the world",
that is the Caravelle and the Boeing 707. The flight durations were
divided by two, while comfort on board was dramatically increased.
On 1 February 1963, the French state granted the lines to West (except
Dakar), Center and South Africa, to the Pacific and to the West Coast
of the USA to the private company UTA, which resulted of the merging of
UAT and TAI.
In the late 1960s, Air France purchased bigger planes (Boeing 727 and 747). The Orly-Ouest airport, dedicated to domestic flights, was opened in 1971. In 1974, Air France and UTA settled the new airport of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle; Air France launched the European medium-haul aircraft Airbus A300. On 21 January 1976, the inaugural flight of the Franco-British Concorde was made on the Paris-Rio de Janeiro line. In 1983, Air France employed 34,600, operated 99 planes and served 150 places in 73 countries, forming a network of 634,400 km; it was the fourth company in the world for passenger transport and the second for freight. The Airbus A320 was launched by Air France and Air Inter in 1988.
Deregulation of the European transport market started on 1 January 1988 and competition became the rule. On 12 January 1990, Air France, Air Inter and UTA were merged into the Groupe Air France. Air France definitively took over UTA in 1992, whereas Air Inter disappeared on 1 April 1997. The group was renamed Société Air France on 3 June 1998; its shares were listed on the Paris stock market on 22 February 1999.
In June 1999, Air France and Delta Airlines set up the basis of a partnership, which was transformed on 22 June 2000 into the SkyTeam Alliance, today including Aeromexico, Air France, Aeroflot, Alitalia, China Southern Airlines, Continental Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Airlines, KLM, Korean Air and Northwest Arilines. Privatization of Air France started in summer 2003, while the Air France-KLM complete merging was effective on 5 May 2004.
Source: Air France Museum website
Ivan Sache, 28 November 2008
Former flag of Air France - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 18 December 2009
The modern flag of Air France is often hoisted over the Aérogare des Invalides (photo), the Air France coach station located in Paris intra muros, close to the Army Museum (Hôtel des Invalides), serving the Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports.
The flag is white with south-west - north-east ascending stripes white-blue-white-blue-white-blue-white- red-white in the right part of the flag and the company's logo in the upper left part of the flag. Since the logo was changed in 2009, the flag might have been changed, too.
The very same colour pattern appeared on the planes' tail (photo), usually with a ring of European yellow stars added in the broadest blue diagonal stripe.
There also existed a flag (photo) with a blue field and the company name, in white capital letters, in the upper left part of the flag.
Ivan Sache & Esteban Rivera, 18 December 2009
The original flag of Air France (photo) shows a large white hexagon overall, dividing a dark blue area at the hoist and a red area at the fly. On the center, the winged seahorse logotype of
Air France in dark blue, facing the hoist, surrounded by a dark blue ring;
on the dark blue area, the lettering "A" above "F" set in white sans serif
The flag is described as follows (corporate website):
Air France flag of 1930.
In Summer 2011, an Air France flag dating from the early '30s from the island of Kastellórizo where there was a sea landing port for seaplanes had been given to our delegation by Ms. Kallimopoulou (whose father was an Air France representative on the island in the years 1928-1935) who had found the flag in a warehouse family and kindly sent it to us. We had transferred this valuable donation to the museum of Air France where Mr Jean Signoret, its president, received it with great joy.
A bit of its history: The airline Air Orient, one of the constituent companies of Air France in 1933, opened in 1927 the first seaplane connections with Beirut. The route follows the Mediterranean coast and chooses basis according to the characteristics of the seaplanes : Marseilles / Marignane, Naples, Corfu, Athens, Castelrosso and Beirut. At Castelrosso in the bay of Mandraki, a hangar and workshops are built. After its creation, Air France resumed the road course in the Middle East and Indochina and opens an office in Castelrosso.
The uncle of Mrs. Kallimopoulos, Vassilis Karayiannis, leads the Air France office, assisted by his younger brother, Panagiotis. They provide refueling to the seaplanes and treatment of passengers and crew, and in case of irregularities, their accommodation. Castelrosso remains a stopover on the way to Syria until June 1940. Castelrosso agency is closed at this time.
Mr Signoret had said to Ms Kallimopoulou that he would look for the best location for the flag be displayed and he had suggested our CEO's office. The flag is now in the CEO's office.
Esteban Rivera, 1 February 2014
Three desk flag of Air France - Images by António Martins, 12 April 2006
The Art-Aviation website shows three desk flags of Air France.
An Air France desk flag (photo) shows a large white hexagon overall, slightly irregular but vertically symmetrical,
dividing a dark blue area at the hoist and a red area at the fly. In the
center is placed the winged seahorse logotype of Air France in
dark blue, facing the fly, with lettering "AIR FRANCE" set in dark blue bold
sans-serif capitals (but not the Air France corporate identity typeface)
Filenames and sort order used in the website suggest that this is the oldest of the displayed Air France flags.
An other Air France desk flag (photo) shows a large white hexagon overall, slightly irregular but vertically symmetrical
(and narrower than the first one, q.v.), dividing a dark blue area at the
hoist and a red area at the fly. On the center, the lettering "AIR FRANCE"
is set in the dark blue bold sans-serif capitals of the Air France corporate
identity typeface on a white rectangular panel that overlaps the hexagon; on
top hoist the winged seahorse logotype of Air France in
golden yellow, facing the fly, surrounded by a golden yellow ring.
Filenames and sort order used in the website suggest that this is the most recent of the displayed Air France flags.
A third design is shown as an artistical rendering of the original flag of Air France, flying (photo). This flag is also shown on a luggage label and on the cover of a company timetable for summer 1935.
António Martins, 12 April 2006
The French government authorized the foundation of two new companies, Transports Aériens Internationaux (TAI) in 1946 and SATI in 1948, renamed Union Aéromaritime de Transport (UAT) in 1949.
On 1 February 1963, the French state granted the lines to West (except Dakar), Center and South Africa, to the Pacific and to the West Coast of the USA to the private company UTA, which resulted of the merging of UAT and TAI.
Source: Air France Museum website
Ivan Sache, 17 April 2006
Desk flag of UAT - Image by António Martins, 12 April 2006
The Art-Aviation website shows a desk flag of UAT (image) as a descending diagonal tricolor blue-white-red with squarish letters made from 4 x 3 square blocks "centered" on each area: a white "U"
on blue, a blue "A" on white, and a white "T" on red; the letter "A" is surrounded by a
ring of five small five-pointed red stars, the upper one placed centrally.
This design is clearly inspired by the French national flag: it is not a diagonal design, such as the flag of Tanzania with a narrow middle stripe but a "tilted tricolor" with a large central area. The shade of blue is distinctly brighter than on the Air France flags shown above.
António Martins, 12 April 2006