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Air France adds own name to Hop unit's branding

Air France HOP is the tweaked brand name under which the French flag carrier will henceforth operate regional flights.

These had previously been marketed as "HOP!" services. The airline says the move "makes it possible to link the regional flight offer more clearly to the Air France brand, and strengthens it by making it the sole point of reference for customers wishing to travel on the French flag carrier".

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Ben Smith, chief executive of parent group Air France-KLM, stresses that the change will have "no effect on the work contracts" of Hop staff.

He describes the rebranding project as being "in line with the simplification strategy currently being implemented within Air France's short-haul sector, including regional aircraft operations, which aims to regain customers' trust and restore a sustainable economic balance". Air France had in January disclosed that plans to abandon its Joon brand and merge that unit's crew and aircraft back into the mainline operation.

Yesterday, ATR indicated that it saw continued scope for its aircraft to be used by Air France despite the carrier's decision to retire the turboprop fleet used by Hop.

The airframer's chief executive Stefano Bortoli said at a briefing in Paris that Air France's decision to phase out its ATRs had "nothing to do with the aircraft's performance".

After a meeting with Air France management earlier in January, Bortoli concluded that the carrier might be interested in reintroducing turboprops in future. "We will continue to propose ATR [aircraft] to Air France Group," he says.

Hop is the sole ATR operator within the French airline today. Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the regional unit has seven ATR 42s and seven 72s within a fleet that also includes Bombardier CRJs, Embraer E-Jets and ERJ-145s, and wet-leased legacy aircraft.

Air France-KLM's Dutch regional unit KLM Cityhopper last year completed its transition to an all-Embraer fleet.

Additional reporting by Michael Gubisch in Paris

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