- in full Compagnie Internationale Air FranceFrench passenger and cargo airline with more than 200 destinations in some 80 countries.It introduced supersonic Concorde service in 1976, but financial loss led the company to cease its Concorde operations in 2003. The French government began privatizing the former national airline in July 2002. In 2004 Air France acquired the Dutch airline KLM to create Air France-KLM, one of the largest air carriers in the world. The two airlines, however, continued to operate as separate companies, retaining their own hubs, flights, and logos.
* * *▪ French airlinein full Compagnie Nationale Air FranceFrench international airline originally formed in 1933 and today serving all parts of the globe. With British Airways (British Airways PLC), it was the first to fly the supersonic Concorde. Headquarters are in Paris.On May 17, 1933, four airlines—Société Centrale pour l'Exploitation de Lignes Aériennes (founded 1919), Compagnie Internationale de Navigation (1920), Air Union (1923), and Air Orient (1929)—merged and negotiated with the French government to form a national system. A few months later, on August 30, with the support of the government, the combine merged with another line, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale (founded 1919), to form Air France, which in the years before World War II developed one of the most extensive networks in Europe. Nearly devastated by the war, the company resumed Paris-to-London service on October 11, 1945. The following year it reorganized, and on June 16, 1948, a new Compagnie Nationale Air France was incorporated by act of parliament, with 70 percent of the new company being owned by the French government.The first Air France transatlantic flight, from Paris to New York City, was inaugurated on June 25, 1946. Routes expanded in the coming decades so that by the early 21st century the airline was serving more than 200 cities in some 80 countries. In 1976 it inaugurated supersonic Concorde flights, initially from Paris to Rio de Janeiro (January 21); in 1982 that route and others had to be cut owing to their unprofitability, leaving the Paris–New York flight as its sole route. Further financial loss, however, led Air France to cease its Concorde operations in 2003. In the late 20th century a movement began to privatize the airline. Public ownership increased in 1999, and, after the French government agreed to relinquish majority ownership in Air France, a privatization program was launched in 2002. In 2004 Air France acquired the Dutch airline KLM to create Air France-KLM, one of the largest air carriers in the world. The deal, however, allowed the two airlines to continue to operate as separate companies, retaining their own hubs, flights, and logos.
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