Cape Town - In a strategic move aimed at sustainable growth, Air France introduced its Joon airline to Cape Town this week.
Described as the "baby sister" of Air France, Joon takes over the direct route between the Mother City and Paris from Air France.
Joon CEO Jean-Michel Mathieu said at a media briefing in Cape Town that the airline represents "the new generation journey by Air France".
It targets younger travellers and commenced three direct flights between Paris and Cape Town this week. Joon cabin crew, for instance, wear white tekkies and polo shirts.
According to Paul van den Brink of Cape Town Air Access - a partnership between Wesgro, the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company South Africa, South African Tourism and Cape Town Tourism - the French market has been earmarked as one of Cape Town's fastest growing markets.
A total of 17 574 French arrivals are expected through Cape Town International Airport between November 2017 and April 2018 with a 22.9% year-on-year increase forecasted. The French market is now the 6th largest source market for the Western Cape.
Nationally, the top two age groups to visit South Africa are 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 year olds among passengers originating from France and Europe.
Historically, Western Cape tourist arrivals boasts a solid youth market with the 25 to 34 year age bracket showing a consecutive growth rate between 2013 and 2016, indicating sound prospects of continued growth into 2018.
"We aim to offer innovative, high quality service at competitive pricing," said Mathieu. "Joon will enable Air France to keep on growing and increase our market share. The objective is to have Joon as an innovative lab for Air France."
In answer to a question from Fin24, Mathieu said he is not sure that the water crisis in Cape Town will impact the city as a destination.
"Joon is not just aimed at the leisure market, but also at the tech and innovation industries in Cape Town," he said.
"I am still optimistic that the water crisis will not impact the attractiveness of the destination."
An Air France representative indicated that the aim will be to make passengers aware of the water situation in Cape Town and that the water situation has so far not impacted bookings.
Van den Brink agreed that there has actually been an increase in air passengers to Cape Town and that flight bookings have not decreased.
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