Groussherzogliche Fliger Gesellschaft
|Airport lounge||GFG Starlounge|
|Fleet size||122 (+21 orders, including JetVL Cargo/GFG Regiojet)|
|Company slogan||Weltwäit, iwweral, GFG. (Worldwide, everywhere, GFG.)|
|Headquarters||Findel, Van Luxemburg|
|Key people||Yann Mathey (CEO)|
The Groussherzogliche Fliger Gesellschaft (GFG) is the flag carrier of the Grand Duchy of Van Luxemburg. It is one of the older airlines in Maredoratica, and until recently, was one of the few airlines that did not offer an economy (Y-class), instead opting to start offering premium economy instead. Since 2016, all GFG aircraft have been equipped with a 'Barony' economy class. A subsidiary of the GFG, JetVL, offers lower-priced air travel. Both companies have a joint headquarters at their historic hub, Luxembourg-Findel International Airport. It serves over 60 destinations in Maredoratica alone, with a further 30 destinations within Van Luxemburg, from its current hubs in Luxembourg-Courtemanche and Venezia.
Corporate affairs and identity
As the oldest airline in Van Luxemburg and one of the oldest in Maredoratica, the GFG is especially held in high regard in its home market. With the new Barony class, the GFG has managed to shake off some of its expensive image, but retains a somewhat more premium appeal, such as offering glassware and metal cutlery in Economy. With the introduction of the new economy class, a shift from the airline's traditional hub at Luxembourg-Findel to the larger and newer Luxembourg-Courtemanche was announced; even though the corporate headquarters would remain at Findel airport, which would otherwise revert to being a private and governmental field, post-GFG departure.
The GFG has been a part of Van Luxemburger government assets since 1961, and was transferred to the sovereign wealth fund Firema in 1987, along with several other holdings. It shares its place in Firema's portfolio with aircraft manufacturer Monteluci, which clearly shows in the acquisition policy maintained by the Group: in recent years, the fleet has shifted to an almost 100%-Monteluci fleet. This was recently reaffirmed as GFG CEO Yann Mathey announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the manufacturer that would eventually lead to the acquisition of a large number of narrowbody aircraft. It is thought that GFG intends to be launch customer for either the NRA-X or INA-X, the two new narrowbody types currently under development with Monteluci.
GFG and its subsidiary GFG Regiojet fly to xx destinations in xx countries
As of April 2013, the GFG fleet consists of the following aircraft, with an average age of 10.2 years:
|Monteluci A500||16||16||80||60||344||460||Includes four GFG suites, positioned above First class|
|Monteluci A360-300EX||6||1||8||22||30||200||260||One in 1960s retro livery|
|Monteluci A300||5||40||0||220||260||Configured for domestic operations|
|Monteluci A100||40||0||0||6||0||76||82||in Regiojet livery|
|KMF M225 NG||25||0||0||4||46||0||50||in Regiojet livery|
|Monteluci A350F||12||0||Cargo aircraft for JetVL Cargo|
|Schmolz+Bickenbach T.71||16||0||Cargo aircraft for JetVL Cargo. Two operated in Van Luxemburger Red Cross livery.|
The GFG operates lounges at a number of its destinations and has negotiated access to partner lounges for others. Per definition, passengers have access to a GFG Starlounge from Princely and up, with GFG Starbound Elite members having access regardless of class traveled. Royal and Imperial class passengers however also have access to the Cosmos Lounge offered at airports such as Luxembourg-Courtemanche, as well as a number of other first class lounges across the world.
GFG distinguishes its classes by titles of royalty; Barony for Economy class, Ducal for Premium Economy, Princely for Business class and Royal for First class, and finally Imperial for the suites onboard its A500 aircraft. Until 2016, GFG had a long-standing tradition of not implementing an economy class aboard its aircraft, instead recommending economy class passengers to upgrade to premium economy or opt to fly its low-cost subsidiary JetVL. The reasoning behind this choice has always been defended by GFG as a way to improve service and comfort aboard its flights, with more space available for the individual traveller. However, in early 2016, GFG announced it would from then on roll out an economy class product, which it dubbed Barony Class.
All GFG aircraft feature satellite telephones, on-board entertainment on every seat, as well as Wi-Fi services that allow sending SMS, E-mail and personal internet access. All widebody aircraft are equipped with a lounge/bistro area that is positioned between the Princely and Royal classes, where passengers can get a selection of drinks, snacks and sandwiches. Passengers of the Princely and Royal classes have access to the bistro, where drinks are free of charge and snacks and sandwiches have to be bought, either with accepted currency or frequent flyer miles on a GFG Starbound card.
A selection of international newspapers and magazines is available on each aircraft. Princely and Royal passengers receive a free newspaper or magazine upon departure, whereas the Ducal system works on a first-come-first-serve basis, with the newspapers to be returned upon reading.
In order to increase ticket sales and thus better earnings per flight, GFG has begun to introduce economy class sections into their fleet. With a 32 inch pitch and an 17.5 inch seat width (9 abreast on widebody aircraft), an 11 inch touchscreen AVOD and free access to internet services for its frequent flyer (Starbound) customers, irrespective of rank within the programme. Other customers are able to make use of a paid Wi-Fi solution. Passengers do not have access to the lounges of GFG.
Since early 2017, Barony class has been installed in all aircraft of the fleet, after the rollout had started aboard its new A360 aircraft in early 2016. At the presentation of its annual figures for 2016, the airline has been extremely positive about the financial results of the rollout so far, citing that the load levels onboard the aircraft had increased significantly and the demand for barony tickets was larger than expected, even causing several flights to be upgraded to larger aircraft types, with the flight to Vienne, Rochehaut, even being upgraded from a Monteluci A360 to an A500 during the summer season.
Ducal class is the Premium Economy offering, which features seats that have a seat pitch of 46 inch (116 cm) and a width of 19.5 inch (49 cm). The seats can be reclined to 8.8 inches (22cm), with a fold-out footrest being standard. The personal entertainment monitors are mounted in the armrests and can be folded away inside of the rest if necessary. They measure 11 inch across and can be used to access GFG’s entertainment system database, as well as flight information and the internet. A USB port is provided to allow connection with a personal electronic device. Other amenities include a reading light, fold-out tables in the armrest and a 230V power outlet.
The Ducal class is normally arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration on widebody aircraft (Monteluci A300, A350, A360 and A500). The Monteluci A200 aircraft operated by GFG have a Ducal class in a Regiojet, in a 3-3 layout. The supersonic Bora aircraft are not equipped with Ducal class seats.
The Regiojet aircraft come equipped with a Ducal offering that measures 18 inch (45.7cm) across and has a seat pitch of 36 inch. Like the seats on regular GFG flights, they come standard with a fold-out footrest and a significant recline. The AVOD screens are 7 inches across, mounted in the headrests and provide the regular range of services for the Ducal class screens, including a USB port. Other amenities include a reading light, fold-down table on the seatback and a 230V power outlet. Onboard the Monteluci A100 aircraft the seats are arranged in a 2-2 configuration, whilst KMF M225 aircraft have a 2-1 layout.
As part of the airline's Barony Class expansion efforts, Ducal class in Regiojet aircraft is being upgraded to 11 inch AVOD screens and a different upholstery colour (a cognac-coloured leather) at the same time. For connecting flights booked by customers in Princely, Royal of Imperial class, an upgrade to Regiojet Ducal is provided at a limited surcharge or no charge, depending on the class booked and ticked conditions, since the introduction of the new 2016 strategy.
The business class offering of the GFG has a seat pitch of 78 inch (198 cm) with a width of 21.5 inch, and offers a full lie flat possibility with a bed that is 207 cm long in total. A 17-inch AVOD screen is provided in the seatback, together with a touchscreen remote; unlike it’s Ducal class counterpart, it is also capable of receiving live TV and radio, and offers a wider range of recent movies and a built-in game console with a number of pre-loaded games. Connectivity with personal electronic devices can be achieved with a USB cable. Reading lights, tray tables and two 230V outlets are available for every seat.
The Princely class onboard widebody aircraft is available in a 2-2-2 layout, staggered to provide every passenger with the required legroom. Onboard Monteluci A200 aircraft, the Princely class is configured as in Regiojet aircraft in a 2-3 layout whereas the Bora makes use of a 1-2-1 layout.
GFG’s signature offering is the Royal class, a first class offering only available on widebody aircraft and the Monteluci Bora supersonic transport. It features a 90-inch seat pitch and a 36 inch seat width. Due to the arrangement of the seats, each individual seat can be secluded from the cabin by closing the privacy screen, creating a suite of sorts. The suite is formed by a seat and a full lie-flat bed option, which doubles as a footrest when not made. Beds will be made and passengers will be supplied with sheets, pillows and blankets when required.
The AVOD screens are 21 inches in diameter, and can be pulled out and adjusted into the preferred position, allowing it to be viewed from both the bed and the seat. It offers live television and radio, a movie and music library spanning thousands of movies and songs, and a built-in gaming console with pre-loaded games. A touchscreen remote control and a complimentary set of noise-cancelling headphones are also provided. Connectivity with personal electric devices over USB or Wi-Fi screencasting is also available.
Further amenities on the seat are reading lights, a private storage for coats and clothes, a fold-out table and two 230V power outlets. On some flights, including those operated by Monteluci Bora aircraft, an in-flight shower facility is provided exclusively for Royal class passengers.
Van Luxemburger flag carrier GFG has recently announced that the two Monteluci A500 aircraft ordered by the airline would be equipped with an upper deck that would not only accommodate seating for business class passengers, but also a total of four full-size suites, a small Imperial lounge and two full-scale bathrooms.
Accidents and Incidents
In the over 90 years that GFG has operated aircraft, several incidents and accidents were recorded, with the last fatal incident occurring in 1986.
- On 23 September 1923, a Schmolz+Bickenbach SB.III flying boat crashed into its mooring pier at Zinzendorf during landing, killing 3 passengers and the entire crew of 4. It was later established that the flight controls had seized, and the pilot was unable to deploy brakes or shut down the engines.
- On 14 April 1926, a Rousseau RA29 collided in mid-air with a WFAW Wf.XIV Aerocar of the Aérocompagnie Levallois, killing all occupants on board both planes. The accident was found to be caused by dense fog, which forced both aircraft to fly low, in order to keep the Levallois-Villacoublay road in visual range.
- On 19 July 1928, a Monteluci Tipo A.16 disappeared off the coast of Ruccola whilst operating the regular Arugula-Luxembourg route. No remains of the aircraft or any of its 16 occupants were ever found.
- On 2 January 1932, a Schmolz+Bickenbach SB.XVII skidded off the runway at Weiningeralp due to icy conditons and crashed into a solid snow bank, killing both pilots.
- On 6 June 1935, a Schmolz+Bickenbach SB.XXI crashed and broke up on landing at Canvatica, Akimonad. Two passengers and a flight attendant were killed.
- On 19 July 1935, a Monteluci Tipo A.25 crashed shortly after takeoff from Luxembourg-Findel Airport. 14 passengers and 2 crewmembers were killed. The cause was later found to be a hydraulics failure that rendered the aircraft uncontrollable.
- On 18 October 1937, the first Monteluci Levante in operation with GFG crashed into a mountain in the Fleckenwalder mountains, in present-day Hainaut. The mountain was found to be obscured by rain clouds and a severe thunderstorm rendered the radio system aboard the aircraft inoperable. The aircraft was only found two weeks later, after an extensive search throughout the Fleckenwalder mountains, initiated when the Levante failed to land in Lienz, Ostria. None of the occupants aboard survived the incident, even though evidence suggest that some passengers may have survived for several days after the crash.
- On 6 March 1941, a Monteluci Ponente was shot down by fighters of the Van Luxemburger Arméi Loft Dienst, mistaking the aircraft for a foreign bomber aircraft. The aircraft managed to crash land on the water of the Baia Arvaglio, from where two Marine vessels managed to recover all but six passengers alive. One of them was struck by bullets during the initial contact, the remaining five drowned due to being unable to swim. Since this time, Van Luxemburger aviation authorities require the presence of life rafts and life jackets onboard aircraft, to protect those unable to swim. In addition, the ALD has required its pilots to confirm the identity of an unresponsive aircraft by reading back the registration of the aircraft.
- On 14 April 1941, a Rousseau RA40 was brought down over Tarbes (Levallois-Perret) by friendly anti-air fire, which had identified the aircraft as a foreign bomber. The 20mm gun emplacement scored several direct hits on the aircraft, disabling one engine and striking the main fuselage. A tracer round lit the leaking fuel on fire, resulting in an explosion that completely consumed the aircraft and all 12 passengers on board. It was the second time in just over a month that a passenger airplane was shot down by military forces, resulting in a temporary ban on civilian flights off the southern coast of Van Luxemburg.
- On 19 February 1944, a Monteluci Levante crashed off the southern coast of Akimonad, having suffered multiple engine failures. Even though the crew managed to complete a ditch on water, the aircraft broke up on impact and the subsequent evacuation procedure managed to transfer 19 of the 26 passengers to a life raft. All crew members were either killed in the crash or drowned afterwards.
- On 16 September 1950, a Monteluci Super Ponente stalled on approach to Luxembourg-Findel airport, the pilot being unfamiliar with the higher approach speeds for the new turboprop-powered aircraft. The aircraft burned out completely after all fuel onboard ignited upon crashing into a field. There were no survivors among the 34 onboard.
- On 12 January 1951, a Monteluci Levante II commonly used as the Van Luxemburger government transport, exploded on the ground at Luxembourg-Findel airport following the unsafe handling of a refuelling procedure. The fuel pump operator was killed in the accident. Since the accident, Van Luxemburger authorities have strictly enforced the no smoking legislation at any site where combustibles were handled.
- On 26 June 1951, a Schmolz+Bickenbach SB.70 crashed into a hill near San Giustra, killing 25 passengers.
- On 19 July 1955, a Monteluci Marin landed on a taxiway at Sint-Annabeek during severe rainfall, crashing into a waiting Schmolz+Bickenbach SB.70b of the Annabeekse Luchtvaartcompagnie (ALC). Of the 118 passengers and crew onboard the aircraft, only 4 survived.
- On 6 August 1958, a Monteluci Super Levante overshot the runway at St Andrews, Jungastia, after the pilots attempted to abort a takeoff past the critical decision speed. The subsequent impact killed 6 crewmembers, who were in the front section of the aircraft at the time.
- On 16 March 1963, a Monteluci Mistral overturned and crashed following a crosswind approach to Arugula Merluza Airport. During the approach, a gust of wind surprised the pilots and drove the starboard wing into the ground, after which the aircraft overturned. All 120 onboard perished in the crash, making it the deadliest crash to have happened in GFG history.
- On 7 May 1972, a Monteluci Mistral operating the Luxembourg–Adelaide flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Laitra, following a fire in one of its engines. Upon landing at a desolate dirt strip, the aircraft was surrounded by armed freedom fighters who demanded to board the plane. As captain Jozef Mertsch was unwilling to give such access, the rebels fabricated their own boarding apparatus and managed to take over the aircraft, killing one of the second officers on the flight in the process. Following major upheaval over the hostage situation, the Van Luxemburger government closely cooperated with Coronadan and Laitran authorities to mount a multinational counterterrorism team that was eventually flown to the airstrip and stormed the aircraft. During the operation, 12 rebels were killed, as well as 1 Van Luxemburger passenger and 1 Laitran soldier.
- On 19 November 1986, a Monteluci A200-300 crashed following takeoff, after the pilot pulled the aircraft into a stall. It was later proven that the pilots were insufficiently familiar with the fly-by-wire joystick and corrective technology of the new A200, and had overapplied the controls. The A200’s computer systems began to attempt a stall recovery procedure, as did the captain, who was unaware the A200 was already attempting to recover from the stall. With the pilot attempting the same, the actions of both reinforced one another, resulting in the aircraft crashing nose-down into a field. There were no survivors onboard the aircraft, which carried 46 passengers.