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The Aviation Industry in France Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2022


Aviation industry in France has come a long way evolving over the years to emerge as one of the vital industries enhancing industrialization in France. The French aerospace is autonomous with state-of-the-art technology which has been the benchmark for the growth of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The country’s export industry accounts for 75% GDP courtesy of an effective and a sophisticated aerospace (Winston, 2008). The amalgamation of five private airlines in the year 1933 led to the formation of Air France, the national airline (Charles, 1974). The airline operated solely as the national carrier for seven decades and in the year 2003, KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij), a Dutch airline was incorporated owing to the government’s efforts to privatize the industry (Leonard, 1999). As a result, the airline conquered the European market emerging as the most lucrative airline in the world over accounting for 25.5% of the Europe’s market share (Dolganis, 1995). France’s stable political environment coupled with its strategic location in Europe has been a great impetus to its tourism industry thereby enhancing an influx of tourists. The efficiency in handling the multitude of tourists has been made possible by an effective airline which boasts a great deal of international airports. The French aviation industry operates under six market segments. Civil and military aircrafts form the major market segment of the French aviation industry responsible for the major revenues earned by the French governments.

In a nutshell, this paper will focus on the: French national airline, the international airports in France, military aircraft manufacture in France and the tourism industry in France.


The French aviation industry has come along way dating back to early 19th century when the first company committed to the manufacturing of aircrafts was formed. French aviation industry is unquestionably the pioneer of the early aviation industry (Charles, 1974). Gabriel Voisin and Ernest Archdeacon’s Syndicat d’Aviation was the pioneer company established in the year 1905 (Leonard, 1999). According to Leonard (1999), Blériot and Voisin merged to form the Blériot-Voisin Company towards the end of the very year of establishment. The company lasted for a short spell before falling out in the year 1906 with Viosin assuming the full ownership after buying of the partners shares. Another merger was formed between Viosin and Charles and this later transformed the companies name to Viosin Freres (Paolo, 1975). The company registered positive results such that prior to the commencement of the World War 1 in the year 1914, they had already manufactured 20 planes (Paolo, 1975). Viosin made a series of unions in an effort to improve his planes. The most successful of all unions was Voisin-Farman Aviation Company which was actually a breakthrough towards the contemporary manufacture of aircrafts.

After a succession of partnerships amongst different airlines, Air France was born on 7th October 1933 (Leonard, 1999). The constituent airlines making up Air France include: “, , , (), and ()” (Ann, 2000). The member companies of Air France had extended their operations in Europe and North Africa long before merging up thus making the airline to be popular in Europe and some parts of Africa. By mid 1945, the French government had already monopolized virtually all the airlines, and towards the end of the year Air France was granted the authority to control air transport (Ann, 2000). The airline now serves a total of one hundred and seventy eight destinations within France and around the world. In the early nineties, the airline was in the brinks of collapse due to heavy debts and this propelled the government towards the giant steps of privatization. The then Prime Minister Lionel Jospin announced for the “partial privatization of Air France” (Dolganis, 1995). This reduced government’s stakes to lower levels. Air France global market reputation was strengthened thanks to the formation of alliances with Delta Air Lines and Sky Team Global Airline in June 1999 and June 2000 respectively (Dolganis, 1995). It was actually the merger between Air France and in the year 2003 that significantly reduced the French government’s shares to the levels below twenty percent (Winston, 2008). This has made it to be at the helm of the top airlines in Europe.

French national airline

Air France, the French government’s national airline was founded in the year 1933 after a consortium of airline companies decided to work under an umbrella company (Air France). The significance of the merger was to broaden its influence in terms of market share in Europe and around the world. To its credit, the French government granted it the authority to control over the French air transport on 1st June 1945(Ann, 2000). Air France is headquartered in grounds north of Paris (Charles, 1974). The airline established its first local terminus at Les Invalides in central Paris and later on it was connected to covering a distance of 160,000 kilometers (Joshua, 1996). This was arguably the longest network in the world by then. Since then, the airline has formed domestic and international networks with the former covering 32 terminals and the later covering 146 terminals serving 89 countries (Joshua, 1996). It inaugurated its first passenger and cargo carrier services between Paris and New York on 1st August 1946 (Charles, 1974). With the need for travel in search for political, social and economic influence, it led to the expansion and development of other networks around the world.

With the quest to offer it’s customers with better services in terms of urgency, Air France inaugurated its first supersonic transport on 21st January 1976 (Green, 1971). This was made possible by the development of jet aircraft and Boeing. They plied several networks satisfying customer’s needs in terms of service delivery. In an effort to enhance customer’s satisfaction, the French government liberalized its policies and allowed for the operation of private airlines with no restrictions on traffic rights. This reduced the monopoly enjoyed by Air France and hence improved the customers services.

With an imminent financial meltdown in the early nineties with regards to Air France, the government decided to reduce its stakes in the company to allow for privatization. It was actually on 19th February 1999 when the government took a massive step in an effort to privatize the company (Green, 1971). Prime Minister Lionel Jospin’s “ government approved the Air France’s partial . Its were listed on the Paris on 22 February 1999” (Dolganis, 1995). Air France formed alliances with Delta Airlines and Sky Team Global Airline so as to compete effectively in air transport. On 30th September 2003, Air France-KLM Company was formed subsequently. This effectively enhanced a reduction of the government’s shares to levels below 20% (Dolganis, 1995). The privatization decision coupled with the formation of alliances with different airlines proved to be a vital undertaking that elevated Air France to the apex above other airlines with respect to revenue collection.

The international airports in France

France has an array of airports spread within the country serving both domestic and international airlines. The airports are spread in the major cities of France with Paris supporting two airports; Charles de Gaulle and Orly (Winston, 2008). The total sum of domestic and international airports in France is 55 with the former accounting for 45 airports and the later accounting for 10 airports (Winston, 2008). The mother airport is Charles de Gaulle situated in Northern Paris. The international airports have opened up France to the outside world boosting its economy. Among the major international airports in France are: Paris Charles de Gaulle, Bordeaux, Lyon Saint-Exupery, Toulouse-Blagnac, Montpellier Mediterranee International and Nantes-Atlantique ().

Paris Charles de Gaulle is located in the northeastern side of Paris and is the largest airport in France (Winston, 2008). The airport handles mostly the international flights with the domestic flights reserved for Orly airport located south of Paris. The airport is endowed with sophisticated facilities enabling it to handle large population of approximately 45 million people per year (Winston, 2008). The airport has three terminals served with shuttle busses to ease traffic congestion (Winston, 2008).

The bearing of Toulouse-Blagnac international airport is 8 kilometers northwest of the prehistoric city of Toulouse (Winston, 2008). It serves a population of approximately 5.5 million people per annum and connects France with major cities in Europe, destination within the vicinities of Mediterranean and Africa (Winston, 2008).

Other international airports are Montpellier Mediterranee International and Nantes-Atlantique handling relatively low populations with Nantes-Atlantique handling a population of approximately 2 million people per annum.

Military aircraft manufacture in France

The French armed forces has witnessed a revolution in the aircrafts owned from simple Lighter-than-air aircrafts e.g. Balloons to more complex ones e.g. Rafale in a span of more than a century between them (Bell, 2002). The military industry in France blossomed in the early nineties before 1930 courtesy of the dawn of the World War 1. The prospects for development experienced hiccups due to political instability owing to Nazi invasion (Green, 1971). Most aircrafts were held hostage by the Nazi government forcing the free French forces to seek aid from the US aircraft manufactures. The speculation of a looming war with Soviet Union is what drove France towards the development of more efficient aircrafts e.g. The Mirage series. Some of the aircrafts used before the World War 1 were Nieuport series and Morane-Saulnier series. Post-World War 1 aircrafts includes the Mirage series among others.

Dassault Aviation Company is the company behind the manufacture of military aircraft in France. This company was founded in the year 1930 by Marcel Bloch (Bell, 1971). The company was hit by a setback during the Nazi invasion that nearly brought it down to its knees. It was in the year 1945 when the company picked up. In the year 1954 Dassault Aviation Company took “the first action of which was to begin development of airborne radars” (Bell, 1971). Among the successful products manufactured by the company includes the Mirage series and Mystere-Falcon. The company manufactures a fleet of sophisticated military aircrafts for many countries around the world today.

Tourism industry in France

France is one of the countries in Europe that attracts a host of tourists since it is gifted with fascinating features. Tourism industry in France account for 6% of the country’s GDP with domestic tourism accounting for 2% while the tourists from abroad accounts for the 4% (Doldanis, 1995). Among the captivating tourist features in France includes “World-renowned architectural wonders, like the Eiffel Tower, Chateau d’If, Arc de Triomphe, Cathedral of Notre dam etc. are a treat to the eyes of the onlookers” (Winston, 2008). The tourism industry has been a success thanks to an effective and efficient air transport.


Aviation industry in France has undergone metamorphosis over the years experiencing a lot of setbacks which have been a blessing in disguise. The industry has beaten the odds to be the most successful airline in Europe and around the world. The industry enjoys a superb management structure with the support from the government. Behind its success is a competent tourism industry which enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the company. The aviation industry in France is well served with modern airports enhancing a smooth flow of business. This quality mix has enabled the government to realize a growth in the GDP thus improving the living standards of the French nationals.


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