The Birth of Air France
The financial crisis in the early 1930s, which inevitably left its mark on civil aviation, and the political determination of Pierre Cot, Minister of Aviation, resulted in the first major restructuring of the French air transport industry in 1933.
In 1933, Air Orient, Air Union, the Société Générale de Transport Aérien ( S.G.T.A. formerly Lignes Farman) and the C.I.D.N.A. ( formerly Franco-Roumaine), started up a joint airline named Société Centrale pour l'Exploitation de Lignes Aériennes ( S.C.E.L.A.). The airline was named Air France, in August 1933, following the takeover of the assets of the bankrupt Aéropostale. Air France was officially inaugurated at Paris-Le Bourget Airport on 7 october 1933. Using the Air orient winged seahorse logo, it moved into Air orient's offices at 2, rue Marbeuf in Paris.
Modernizing the network
The main tasks of Air France's executives were to upgrade the 37,800-km network covering Europe, the Mediterranean region and South America, and destinations along trhe Saigon route. They also had to streamline the very mixed fleet of 259 aircraft of 31 different types. This was done using only french aircraft, such as the Bloch 220, Potez 62, Breguet Wibault 282 and the Dewoitine 338, which cruised at a speed of 250 km/hr.
The arrival of the Dewoitine 338 in Asia in 1938 reduced the flight time between Marseille and saigon to 6 days ( 5 as from 1939) with no change of aircraft.
Comfort and safety
Comfort and safety were the two priorities of the brand new airline, which provided baggage racks, individual fans, heating, and the highly appreciated service of a steward. In terms of piloting, the introduction of radiogoniometry meant that the plane could be flown in conditions of reduced visibility, which was quite a feat at the time.
1938 ended well for Air France, which, with 100 aicraft, boasted the world's third largest network ( 45,500 km), divided into four regions : Continental Europe inclmuding London with 4 daily flights, North Africa, South America and the Far East, via trhe Middle east. It carried 104,424 passengers (52,100 in 1933), 1,368 tons of cargo (973 tons in 1933), et 882 tons of mail ( 153 tons in 1933).
The war interrupted this expansion, the financing of which was still somewhat uncertain.