LONDON – Air France will increase its China programme, in response to the lifting of travel restrictions, with a move towards pre-pandemic levels, a press release announced.
Following the easing of travel restrictions to China, Air France has announced increased route capacity with a return to daily flights to three major cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The French flag carrier currently operates on selected routes between Paris and China:
- Beijing (Beijing-Capital airport), once a week
- Shanghai (Shanghai Pudong airport), twice a week (from 03 February 2023, three times a week)
- Hong Kong, three times a week (since 09 January 2023)
From 1 July 2023, Air France is planning to operate daily to all three cities in a move that will see the operator perform 21 flights per week between the French capital and China.
The airline has been operating in China since 1966, flying from and to the Mainland China region up to 32 times a week before the pandemic.
Paris-Shanghai is planned on the Boeing 777-300ER fleet with the Paris-Beijing and Paris-Hong Kong services operating on the Boeing 787-9 fleet. Both fleets have Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabin class configurations.
The Boeing 777-300 ER is equipped with Air France’s latest long-haul cabins and outfitted with 369 seats (48 in Business, 48 in Premium Economy, 273 in Economy).
The Boeing 787-9 is equipped with 279 seats (30 in Business, 21 in Premium Economy, 228 in Economy).
The China expansion follows another announcement of the carrier expanding its Caribbean network as reported by AviationSource here.
After a three-year long hiatus, China finally opened its borders to air travel on January 8, 2023. A further relaxation of restrictions between Hong Kong and Macau saw Mainland China further open to air travel earlier this month.
Air France’s expansion follows the announcements of other operators expanding their networks from/to China with many reporting phased returns.
The relaxation of travel restrictions has similarly given rise to the subsequent expansion of network services by Chinese airline operators.
With the relaxation of China’s air travel requirements, and the upcoming peak demand season of Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, China Eastern Airlines is set for a mass allocation of over 700 aircraft in the coming month.
Thanks to the resumption and adjustment of international flights and the upcoming Spring Festival, travel demand will be further bolstered in early 2023, as people go sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends, or returning home for a family reunion during the festival.
China Eastern Airlines plans to allocate 753 aircraft between January 7 and February 25, with average planned daily flights of over 2,900, and arrange over 6,000 additional flights to meet passengers’ air travel demand.