Air France Expected to Shut Down Joon, Apologize to Millennials

It’s been a year since Air France started service under the ‘Joon’ brand. A separate airline with lower labor costs is one thing. It’s hard enough to pull that off without really being a separate company. Just ask United, Delta, US Airways, and Continental about the airline within an airline experiment.

Pretending that it’s really a different brand for millennials was just silly. It was created by consultants who think millennial means “no money, doesn’t care about comfort, and is into marketing buzz.”

Credit: Air France

Millennials aren’t that different from other generations. They may not buy as many souvenirs but spend more on experiences while they’re away. However where millennials really diverge from other generations is that they are less trusting of institutions. So patronizing millennials by forced attempts at authenticity is self-defeating.

When you’re taking advice on cool from late 50s white males, you’re doing it wrong.

And whenever I thought of Air France’s Joon I couldn’t help but think of the Benny & Joon soundtrack and that Proclaimers song something along the lines of “I’d rather walk 500 miles than fly Air France’s Joon.”

Air France has a new CEO, and he isn’t a moron. So I was surprised to see the airline promoting a new seating option similar to Air New Zealand’s Skycouch a week ago instead of shutting the thing down.

Now, however, word leaks that Air France is looking to put Joon out of its misery.

Air France-KLM is mulling the closure of Joon, its newest airline brand, company sources told Reuters, in an about-face that could help new boss Ben Smith address the chronic underperformance of the main Air France business.

The discussion about scrapping Joon, which has not been decided, may be a sign of the Canadian chief executive’s determination to tackle weak Air France profitability head-on rather than mitigate it with lower-cost secondary offerings, as many of his predecessors have tried and failed to do.

The new CEO “has made clear he doesn’t understand the positioning or identity of Joon,” one Air France source said. “It’s a question he’s raised internally, several times.”

According to France’s Le Figaro the decision to shut down Joon has already been made.

Joon isn’t a solution to Air France profitability. It’s a complication, and one that’s a thorn in the side of the airline’s unions. He could cut a deal that kills Joon, which they ought to do anyway, and uses that as a bargaining chip with Air France’s pilots.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Millennial’s don’t like seats when flying or food or service or credit in their FF program
    so it should have been a big success

  2. Interesting, as he was a leader of the Rouge project, which is one of the few airline-with-an-airline that has done really well. I’m a little surprised he doesn’t use that experience to revamp it, though perhaps it’s just too far gone to save.

  3. Ben Smith ruined Air Canada, turned the AC economy experience into a torture chamber.
    But the guy knows how to make money.
    Watch out AF.

  4. Joon, meet Ted…

    Apparently, the airlines have failed to develop a viable niche as a Chief by SNCF’s “Ouigo” converting older TGVs to pure economy services.

  5. AF group has lots of sub airlines.
    Air France, KLM, Transavia, HOP, Joon, martinair.
    So there is obviously too many brands here.
    It is so confusing that I could never find somebody at AF to explain to me the differences between them.
    It is already bad that they could not complete their merger with KLM due to political issues, but creating 3 low cost brands: transavia, joon and HOP is clearly idiotic. My feeling is 2 out of those 3 need to go!

  6. I flew Joon this summer from FCO to CDG. I don’t understand why it existed because everything at the airport was still branded as AF. It was very confusing.

  7. Hi Gary, is AA Eagle considered an airline w/in airline?
    also, how was joon different from Hop! or transavia?

  8. “When you’re taking advice on cool from late 50s white males, you’re doing it wrong”

    That comment is ageist, racist, misandrist and has absolutely no place in intellectual discourse. What demographic group are you going to disparage next – women, blacks, the LGBT community? Get a clue…

  9. It’s a typical skin deep analysis to define “millennials” – we see this again and again – low cost, low service etc. This is all wrong. These companies, and the “late 50s white males” consultants who do this analysis should be focused on millennial characteristics, which are now widely adopted by their baby boomer parents and pretty much everyone else. These characteristics represent delivering authentic value/experiences, real time engagement, personalization and a fully integrated digital capability – not one size fits all budget service and outdated understandings of what drives loyalty.

  10. Ben has been down this path when he was with AC and saw this movie before with Tango and Zip (the latter being a particularly futile effort to keep the Jurassic ex CP 737 fleet going) and he has seen all the unhappy endings. Someone in the comments said why are you listening to 50s white guys to design a product for millenials: right on.

  11. It was one of the worst experiences I have ever had for a CDG-BOM sector flight. Being a Bombay-born Paris resident since 6 years, I have been flying this route frequently, and it makes no sense to me to pay the same price as a FSC like Jet Airways and then be treated to this low-cost BS. USB outlets exist on most long-haul flights, so having the flight crew wear “trendy” t-shirts really adds nothing to the experience. On top of this, I was told the “free” beverages were out of stock 45 minutes in, in a flight that was 9 + hours long. On insisting, the steward has the audacity to offer a beer and asking if I was then happy.

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