Following the lead of its Dutch sister airline KLM, Air France will add its own brand to the regional fleet and services currently marketed as Hop!. KLM Cityhopper operates all of KLM’s regional services and the KLM brand and colors prominently appear on its aircraft. The move comes just weeks after the Franco-Dutch group’s new CEO Ben Smith decided to ditch the Joon sub-brand from Air France’s portfolio after concluding that element of its marketing strategy confused customers, employees, markets, and investors.
“This is the next step towards consolidating the strength of our brands and increasing the clarity and overall consistency of the Air France-KLM Group's offer,” said Smith. The group will concentrate on three brands: Air France/Air France Hop, KLM/KLM Cityhopper, and low-cost subsidiary Transavia, which operates in both France and the Netherlands.
Air France regrouped its three regional carriers—Airlinair, Brit Air, and Regional—in 2013 under the Hop brand and gradually brought them under one management and a more streamlined structure to reduce costs. The separate brand will now make way for Air France Hop!.
"This change of brand will have no effect on the work contracts of Hop staff,” according to Smith. He said the project is “in line with the simplification strategy currently being implemented within Air France's short-haul sector, including regional aircraft operations, which aims to regain customers' trust and restore a sustainable economic balance.” Hop! in December started to shed its ATR turboprops, though Air France did not disclose on Friday whether the brand change will lead to a further restructuring of the regional fleet, routes, bases, and management. Smith did call the domestic network and the regional market currently operated by Hop! “fundamental to the Air France business model, securing its regional foothold.”
Hop! serves as a capacity provider exclusively for Air France. Its fleet currently consists of six ATR 42s and seven ATR 72s; 11 Bombardier CRJ700s and 14 CRJ1000s; and 18 Embraer ERJ-145s, 15 E170s, and 11 E190s.