• Joe Breitfeller

Air France Celebrates 75 Years of Service to New York

An Air France Douglas DC-4 called ‘Ciel d’île de France’ departed Paris-Orly at 7:00 p.m. on June 24, 1946. At an average speed of 305 km/h and two stops, one in Ireland and the second in Newfoundland, the aircraft landed in New York 23 hours and 45 minutes later.


Christened on 16 February at the Douglas factory in Santa Monica, the first of the four-engine aircraft that Air France had ordered from the American manufacturer entered into service, on 11 June 1946 - Courtesy Air France

On Friday (June 25, 2021), Air France announced the 75th anniversary of the airline’s inaugural service between Paris and New York. The flight was operated with a Douglas DC-4 called ‘Ciel d’île de France’ which departed Paris-Orly on June 24, 1946 at 7:00 p.m. Traveling at an average speed of 305 km/h (190 mph), the aircraft made two stops, one in Ireland and the other in Newfoundland, before arriving 23 hours and 45 minutes later in New York.


Douglas DC-4 ‘Ciel Ile de France’ (F-BBDJ) First Flight Paris-New York. From Left to Right: Robert Bonnet, second CBD, Jean Rousseau, navigator, Madeleine Thiplouse, hostess, Roger Loubry, CBD and chief pilot North Atlantic, Georges Plantive and Marien Chapy, radios – Photo Credit: Air France Museum Collection
Parents and their child rest quietly in the bunks of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation ‘Parisian Special.’ A hostess brings them breakfast – Photo Credit: Air France Museum

The introduction of the Lockheed Constellation in January 1947 allowed Air France to eliminate one of the outbound stopovers and make the return New York-Paris trip direct. The Air France team created a modular cabin onboard the Connie which featured up to 46 seats on a day flight and 22 berths at night, calling the service ‘Golden Comet.’


Air France introduced an improved version of the aircraft, the Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation in January 1947, which featured a lounge bar, private cabins and real beds onboard. The Paris-New York route became legendary with the outbound flights known as the ‘Parisian Special’ and the return flights as the ‘Golden Parisian.’



A group of passengers enjoy champagne, in the lounge, in First Class of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation ‘Parisian Special’ - Photo Credit: Air France Museum

Air France Concorde - Photo Credit: Air France Collection

On January 31, 1960, Air France entered the jet age with a brand new Boeing 707 called ‘Château de Versailles’, which offered unparalleled luxury and cut the time from Paris to New York in half, traveling at a cruising speed of 900 km/h (560 mph). The next leap took place on June 3, 1970 with the launch of the first Air France Boeing 747 commercial flight, ushering in the age of mass air travel, without deviating from the airline’s tradition of luxury and pleasure of travel. The most spectacular advancement on the route took place on November 22, 1977 with the introduction of Concorde, reducing the flight time between Paris and New York to 3 hours and 30 minutes, by traveling at 2,200 km/h (1,367 mph).


Air France La Premiére – Photo Credit: Air France Collection

Finally, on November 21, 2009, Air France’s 516-passenger Airbus A380 super-jumbo touched down at New York-JFK. In 2014, the airline marked a new milestone on the route’s history, by unveiling onboard a Boeing 777, the upmarket move of all products and services, especially the new La Premiére suite. Although Air France was forced to drastically reduce their flight schedule with the 2020 onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the airline maintained regular service between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and New York-JFK, providing an essential air bridge for repatriations and cargo.



For 2021, Air France is maintaining their ‘Air France Protect’ health commitment and has extended full booking flexibility through December 2021. This summer, Air France is offering up to three daily frequencies between Paris and New York-JFK, as well as over 100 weekly departures from 12 U.S. gateways, with seamless European connections via their hub at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.



Source: Air France