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Air France Celebrates 70 Years of Paris-Johannesburg Flights



Air France proudly celebrates a remarkable milestone as it reaches the 70th anniversary of its nonstop flights connecting Paris and Johannesburg. Since its inaugural flight in 1953, Air France has played a vital role in facilitating international travel, fostering cultural exchange, promoting tourism, and creating business opportunities between France and South Africa as reported by Bizcommunity.

At present, Air France operates daily direct flights between the two cities utilising the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Passengers can enjoy the comfort of a newly refurbished cabin, which includes economy, premium economy, and state-of-the-art business-class experiences.

Wilson Tauro, the country manager for Air France-KLM in Southern Africa, emphasises the significance of Johannesburg as a prominent destination within Air France’s extensive global network of cities. He expresses delight in celebrating the 70-year milestone of direct flights between the two cities, highlighting the enduring popularity of this route among both French and South African travellers. This achievement reflects the airline’s unwavering commitment to providing exceptional service and stands as a testament to the trust and loyalty of its passengers. Air France looks forward to connecting Paris and Johannesburg for many more decades to come.

Air France remains dedicated to enhancing the travel experience on the Paris-Johannesburg route and has consistently invested in its operations to ensure optimal comfort and efficiency. Notably, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Air France stood out by operating repatriation flights. Together with its sister airline, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France conducted 97 repatriation flights, bringing 18,934 passengers back to Paris and Amsterdam from both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

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Expanded Capacity for the Rugby World Cup

As France prepares to host the Rugby World Cup, there has been a surge of interest from South African fans eager to witness their country defend its title live. In response to the increased demand, Air France has announced a temporary increase in frequency from seven to ten flights per week between Johannesburg and Paris during the tournament.

Wilson Tauro expresses excitement about the upcoming Rugby World Cup, recognising it as a highly anticipated global sporting event. He emphasises the significance for South Africa, the defending champions, and states that Air France is delighted to add three additional flights per week to accommodate the demand. The extra flights have been performing well, and Air France looks forward to welcoming all South African rugby enthusiasts on board.

A Rich and Fascinating History

Air France, under Union de Transports Aériens, commenced its Paris to Johannesburg route in 1953, using a Douglas DC-4 aircraft with a capacity of just 64 passengers. Given the considerable distance of over 8,700 km, the aircraft had to make several stops for refuelling in Tripoli, Kano, Brazzaville, and Livingstone during its twice-monthly trips before reaching Johannesburg. The journey, spanning two days and five hours, was an arduous one.


Due to growing demand, the flight frequency doubled to weekly flights between the two countries in January 1954. In 1964, the flight transitioned to a Douglas DC-8 aircraft, reducing the number of stops to just Brazzaville. The new aircraft accommodated 249 passengers and significantly shortened the travel time to a mere 11 hours and 17 minutes.

In 1983, Air France introduced the Boeing 747-200 on the route, allowing passengers to fly directly to Johannesburg without any intermediate stops. This revolutionary development enabled the 271 onboard passengers to reach their destination in just 10 hours and 30 minutes. As demand continued to rise, the airline increased the service to three flights per week between the two cities.

Over the years, significant aircraft upgrades were implemented on the route, and the popular Airbus A380 served as the flagship aircraft, transporting a total of 516 passengers until 2023. Air France’s A380 to Johannesburg became the first A380 aircraft to operate between Europe and Africa. However, in 2023, the Boeing 777-300ER was introduced, gradually replacing the A380 on this route.

Celebrating Seven Decades of Connection

Air France extends its deepest gratitude to its loyal customers, partners, and employees who have contributed to the success of the Paris-Johannesburg route over the past seven decades. The airline remains committed to excellence, innovation, and seamless travel experiences as it connects people and cultures across continents. With a firm dedication to the future, Air France looks forward to many more years of exceptional service, ensuring passengers can embark on unforgettable journeys between Paris and Johannesburg.


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Photo: Facebook / @Air France

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