New aircraft, a new image, new routes & new products on-board
Founded in 1946, Aigle Azur is the second-largest airline company in France. It benefits from a long rich history and celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2016. Every year, Aigle Azur transports almost 2 million passengers aboard its fleet exclusively composed of Airbus aircraft through nearly 300 scheduled weekly flights from its bases in Lyon, Marseille and Paris.
In August 2017, the airline instated Frantz Yvelin as their Chief Executive Officer – marking a change in leadership – and, simultaneously, another new chapter was opened with the arrival of a new shareholder, David Neeleman, from the parent company of Hainan Airlines – HNA.
Earlier this year, at a press conference in Paris, the airline announced its long-term reinvention with a host of developments, including new aircraft, a new image, new products onboard and new routes. Whilst Aigle Azur has long been prominent in its traditional Mediterranean markets, it is now expanding further afield. Last year, the airline launched new services to Beirut and Moscow and the airline will strengthen its position in the intra-Europe market this summer – with a new route between Orly and Milan and expansion of the existing Berlin connection.
Building on this European expansion, the airline will launch new long-haul services from Orly to Beijing-Capital (beginning June 21st) and Sao Paulo-Campinas (beginning July 5th). Both services will operate on a three-weekly basis – although the latter will increase to five-weekly in September – with Aigle Azur’s new Airbus A330-200s.
France’s second largest carrier currently has twelve aircraft in its fleet (9x A320s and 1x A319) – but this is increasing to 12 with the arrival of two new A330-200s.
These new aircraft will operate the new services to Beijing and Sao Paulo and will reinforce current operations from Paris to Bamako, Algiers, Oran and Porto. In addition, these A330s will debut a new onboard product, divided into two classes, Business and Economy.
The new Business Class will have fully-flat seats, a state-of-the-art on-board VOD-type entertainment system, mood lighting and access to Wi-Fi. Finally, the airline has unveiled a new visual identity, which includes a reimagined livery, which can only be described as refreshingly gorgeous. This is all part of Aigle Azur’s aim to compete with the best business class carriers and to ‘conquer new business opportunities’.
As a growing carrier, the airline is also keen to form close partnerships with airlines from around the world. Logically, Aigle Azur will codeshare with Brazilian carrier Azul – whose largest hub is in Sao Paulo-Campinas and will provide endless connections around Brazil for Aigle Azur’s customers – and the Chinese five-star carrier Hainan Airlines.
“This flight represents another milestone in the growth of Viracopos as a major hub of Azul. We are very excited about adding Paris to our ever growing domestic and international network. We will offer fast and convenient connections from all over Brazil to Paris.”
the chief revenue officer, Azul linhas aereas
Aigle Azur will also form a strategic and commercial partnership with Air Caraibes – a major client of Paris-Orly – and the Portugese flag carrier TAP.
Ultimately, seeing a regeneration of an airline is always interesting. Aigle Azur is sticking to its former markets faithfully but, also, expanding rapidly into unchartered territory for an airline of its size. Flying from Paris-Orly (an airport arguably more convenient for Business travellers travelling into Paris), with a variety of partners around the world and a globally competitive product, Aigle Azur is enjoying something of a renaissance.