The first French airline was Société des lignes Latécoère, later known as Aéropostale, which started its first service in late 1918 to Spain. The Société Générale des Transports Aériens was created in late 1919, by the Farman brothers and the Farman F.60 Goliath plane flew scheduled services from Toussus-le-Noble to Kenley, near Croydon, England. Another early French airline was the Compagnie des Messageries Aériennes, established in 1919 by Louis-Charles Breguet, offering a mail and freight service between Le Bourget Airport, Paris and Lesquin Airport, Lille.
Analysis of the 1992–1996 period shows that every player in the air transport chain is far more profitable than the airlines, who collect and pass through fees and revenues to them from ticket sales. While airlines as a whole earned 6% return on capital employed (2–3.5% less than the cost of capital), airports earned 10%, catering companies 10–13%, handling companies 11–14%, aircraft lessors 15%, aircraft manufacturers 16%, and global distribution companies more than 30%. (Source: Spinetta, 2000, quoted in Doganis, 2002)
Airlines have substantial fixed and operating costs to establish and maintain air services: labor, fuel, airplanes, engines, spares and parts, IT services and networks, airport equipment, airport handling services, booking commissions, advertising, catering, training, aviation insurance and other costs. Thus all but a small percentage of the income from ticket sales is paid out to a wide variety of external providers or internal cost centers.