The Airline for Hipster-Millennials Takes Off This Week

November 30, 2017, 8:54 AM UTC

Joon, the latest aviation brainchild of Air France-KLM Group (AFLYY) designed for millennials, starts operation this week.

Joon is the group’s second attempt at cutting costs: the first was dropped when it prompted a demonstration that saw 100 workers storm into a meeting of the airline’s senior management and rip the shirts from the backs of executives.

Air France’s new airline is called Joon, a play on “jeune” which is French for young. The glamorous picture painted by the airline, as reported by Bloomberg, depicts fashionable and technocratic attendants plating up in-vogue menu items like organic quinoa salad and baobab juice, as millennials scoot from Paris to Barcelona and Brazil at discount rates, while streaming documentaries in the sky.
What’s not immediately visible from the ads is how far Air France has gone to cut costs without offending its pilots. The trouble that left management shirtless stemmed from an attempt to cut pilots’ pay. By contrast, Bloomberg reports, pilots on Joon will earn as much as on the main Air France brand. It’s the other cabin crew – at rates 40% below their Air France counterparts – who will take the strain.
“Air France needs to improve its cost performance relative to competitors in order to thrive in an environment that may not be as benign as the one we have today,” said Andrew Lobbenberg, an aviation analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc in London, in a Bloomberg report. “That’s what Joon is about.”

Air France CEO Franck Terner describes Joon as a “laboratory for experiments in marketing and pricing” to Bloomberg, likening its launch to Richard Branson’s pioneering Virgin Atlantic in the ’80s. However, feedback from an ad campaign (above) that ends by adding it’s “also an airline”, has been somewhat disapproving. Critics on social media and elsewhere accuse the ad of patronizing younger travelers and misinterpreting needs.

What does the airline actually offer? Joon passengers can stream movies and shows on their iPhones, iPads or other smart devices, which not only caters to the ‘always on’ generation but saves Joon the cost of installing screens in seatbacks. To accommodate, seats will be fitted with USB ports for charging and from 2018, free Wi-Fi, says Bloomberg.

Other perks like checked luggage, programs from the Viceland and RedBullTV channels viewed via virtual-reality headsets, and the baobab juice, will come at an additional cost. Air France will initially lend Joon Airbus SE A320s which means business-class will be available, as will a premium-economy class on long-haul routes.