Launching a new cabin for a new airline produced challenge for AFI KLM E&M as Air France launched Joon, a new style of operation.
Joon was launched with much fanfare in September 2017, designed to meet new expectations of travellers. The identity was created by Air France together with the brand design agency Brand Image and included an electric blue colour scheme, flight attendant uniforms with a sportswear look and catering including organic dishes.
Much of the marketing was digital. It was described as “a fashion brand, a rooftop bar, a personal assistant, a TV channel on demand, and oh … Joon does flying too!”. Initial services used two-class Airbus A320 (174 seats) and A321s (212 seats) on medium haul routes from Paris to Barcelona, Berlin, Lisbon and Porto.
Currently, there are 13 aircraft serving Barcelona, Berlin, Istanbul, Lisbon, Naples, Oslo, Porto, Rome, Bergen and Budapest. The next step was the introduction of four Airbus A340s (sourced, like the rest of the fleet, from Air France) for long haul services to Fortaleza, Cairo, Cape Town, Mahé,Tehran and Saint Martin (summer only), with operations scheduled to start in March 2018.
As with the A320/321s, the new cabin was to be installed by AFI KLM E&M. This process started in December 2016 with a confidential cabin kick-off meeting, meaning there was a very tight timescale to completion.
As a result, any changes would have to use existing products in the market or with a short development time; already certified or certifiable in time, minimum customisation; and a cabin configuration that was already engineered and certified by the company’s DOA. At the same time, the cabin had to reflect the image of Joon.
January 2017 was spent looking at timescale and costs, followed in February by a financial evaluation, including the business case, allowable budget and the fleet size. The next two months saw product definition and customisation, comprising entertainment (IFE/wifi), cabin classes definition (Business, Premium Economy, Economy), and the brand image.
Consultations with seats and IFE manufacturers took place in April, leading to full approval by Air France boards in May, but with only seven months to the planned start of work on the first aircraft. The work package included the removal of the existing seats and IFE system and a complete refurbishment of the interior.
This included new lavatories, only the original monument being retained, and the installation of LED mood lighting. Small front-row monuments in Premium Economy were designed in-house.
The B/EV4 lie-flat Business seats (in a 2-2-2 configuration) were refurbished, with a new shell, covers and all decorative panels, while Geven supplied new seats for Premium Economy (39in pitch, 133 ̊ recline, 2-3-2) and Economy (32in pitch, 118 ̊ recline, mainly 2-4-2).
A new Zodiac RAVE 2 IFE system was installed, plus a cabin wifi network with five WAPs. Seat back monitors were fitted throughout the aircraft, with a 15.6in HD touch screen in Business, incorporating high power USB ports. The final LOPA produced a 30J/21PE/227Y layout, with three more passengers in Economy than the previous cabin, thanks to the smaller space envelope of the new seats and optimisation of the layout.
Given the time constraints of the project, efficient project management was extremely important. One advantage was the skills and experience within AFI KLM E&M and the company’s broad range of approvals, allowing much of the work to be done in-house.
However, keeping the teams small – these included Joon and over 45 trusted suppliers – provided flexibility, reactivity and capacity to adapt to challenges. For suppliers, they were left to get on with the job once they had satisfied some basic requirements such as price and lead time and reducing risk by ensuring they had the industrial capacity to produce items on schedule.
The complexity of the task can be seen from some statistics. A total of 17,000 engineering hours were required, with more than 1,000 pages of installation instructions. Each aircraft required over 13,000 parts, with 1,100 individual part numbers, 6,700m of wiring and 2,000m2 of leather and fabric.
In the end, it was successful, and the first flight left for Cairo exactly as scheduled 15 months earlier, on 25 March 2018.
Unfortunately, on 10 January, Air France KLM announced that Joon would reabsorbed into the main airline, saying that despite the many positive impacts of Joon, in particular the invaluable contribution of the teams at Joon who launched the company and worked with passion and dedication, the brand was difficult to understand from the outset for customers, for employees, for markets and for investors.
It also noted that the Airbus A350s on order would have a more economical cabin configuration.