Air France’s baffling millennial airline experiment, Joon, is likely coming to an end less than a year after launch. Benjamin Smith recently took over as Air France’s CEO and promised to make the airline more profitable. He reportedly does not see a future for Joon, Air France’s so-called “sister” airline that targets the 18-35 demographic with a cringe-worthy marketing strategy
The low-cost carrier market in Europe is crowded. While the U.S. airlines were focused on basic economy to compete with the likes of Spirit and Frontier Airlines, Europe’s major carriers were creating new airlines entirely. Major low-cost airlines like Norwegian and Ryanair forced incumbents like IAG (the parent company of British Airways and Iberia) to come up with LEVEL. Air France-KLM also formed its own pet project in Joon.
The whole affair harkens back to when Delta and United went through similar misadventures during the ugly aughts of airline travel, with hyper-branded airlines Song and Ted. Consumers responded to both of those concepts, targeted toward lesiure travelers and specically women, with similarly short shrift.
“Lifestyle Brand” That Happens To Be An Airline
What exactly is an airline designed for millennials? Apparently for Air France, it’s a company that delivers a “lifestyle” first and an airline second (err…fifth).
Joon is a fashion brand, a rooftop bar, an entertainment channel, a personal assistant … and Joon does flying too!
Millennials are clearly a desired target market for many, many companies—and rightfully so. However, companies fail to realize time and again that most people who fall within this demographic are savvy consumers. Even for non-frequent flyers, most millennials could see right through Joon’s shallow marketing fluff.
Joon is an airline that breaks with convention, goes beyond the airport gates and is inspired by the new expectations of travellers to offer a total travel experience.
Joon’s PR team insists that the airline isn’t a low-cost carrier; it instead is an airline for millennials that happened to have some lower cost flights with flashy branding and a “rooftop bar.”
Joon vs. Air France
Joon is operating many of Air France’s traditionally leisure routes using a mix of 13 Airbus A320 jets and four A340s for long-haul service.
From an operational perspective, Joon contracts with 540 cabin staff on lower-cost terms than the mainline Air France operation. By winding down Joon, CEO Benjamin Smith could actually foster staff goodwill by transferring Joon’s cabin crew contracts over to Air France.
Air France-KLM also has two other two brands—low-cost operator Transavia and domestic short-haul Hop.
Joon also serves organic coffee and tea, has more relaxed uniforms for its cabin crew, and offers things like virtual reality headsets for rent on its long-haul flights. So millennial.
What the airline failed to offer were things that actually matter to young travelers, like frequent and punctual flight schedules, comfortable seats, and well-paid, well trained cabin crews.
Joon is one of those concepts that sounds great in theory in the boardroom but falls flat in practice. Air France already has a younger, chic, playful perception as an airline. Instead of trying to create more targeted marketing campaigns with the Air France name, the company has spent millions in an effort attracting millennials to a trying-way-too-hard airline called Joon.
Therefore, from my own millennial perspective, it’s not entirely surprising that Joon will most likely be eliminated from the Air France portfolio. Before they do, make sure to watch Joon’s safety video that doubles as very strange, avant garde modern artpiece. Ugh.