Air France’s often derided subsidiary Joon is facing fresh criticism after French television station, France 2 aired anonymous interviews with several members of Joon cabin crew on Sunday night. Joon, which is barely 12-months old, was marketed as a new airline for millennials with a cringe-worthy advertising campaign that the carrier might never be allowed to forget.
But the glossy, yet badly thought out marketing strategy didn’t do a very good job at hiding the true purpose of why Air France had created Joon in the first place claim critics of the subsidiary – an attempt by the poorly performing French flag carrier to save money.
By creating a new airline brand, Air France was able to hire new staff on far less favourable contracts than their counterparts at the mainline airline. Instead of creating new routes or competing with Air France, the budget subsidiary has simply taken over some of Air France’s existing routes. Joon now flies to 14 destinations in Europe from its base in Paris, as well as operating six medium and long-haul routes including Mumbai and Cape Town.
So what are conditions like at Joon? The staffers interviewed by France 2 said they simply weren’t being paid enough to live comfortably – the average annual wage for a member of Joon cabin crew is about €26,000 whereas mainline Air France flight attendants would expect to earn at least €10,000 more. Even cabin crew at budget competitor easyJet would expect to earn more than at Joon claims the France 2 news show Journal.
But’s it not just low wages that has created a high turnover rate at the airline – cabin crew say they are experiencing “extreme fatigue” because Joon only abides by the absolute minimum rules set by Europe’s air safety authority. There’s also pressure put on crew not to take sick leave and instability of working hours due to a lack of reserve flight attendants ready to work. Crew accomodation is said to be squalid, with staffers saying they often had to sleep between blood stained sheets.
The SNPNC union even says passengers could be at risk – Joon, apparently, is resorting to hiring teenage cabin crew with little experience of maturity to deal with an onboard incident or emergency.
In a statement, Joon said it had taken steps to improve reserve numbers and had also implemented new rules on working hours which were better than the legal minimum – Though, there was no mention on whether wages might be increased.
The cabin crew union, meanwhile, is calling on Joon to be closed down – something that might actually happen. Ben Smith, the new Air France chairman who was headhunted from his role at Air Canada has been considering radical chances at the airline group to turn its fortunes around. Smith, apparently, has been eyeing up the longterm viability of Joon and has considering calling time on the project.