Air France Outlines Chinese Network Restoration Plans

Credit: Joe Pries

Air France is to resume daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai from July as it builds back its Chinese network to pre-pandemic levels.

The SkyTeam alliance member said it would gradually increase service over the coming months in response to the Chinese government’s decision to significantly relax travel restrictions, including removing a requirement to quarantine on arrival. Frequencies to Hong Kong will also be added.

Service from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Beijing Capital (PEK) is once a week at the present time, while Shanghai Pudong (PVG) is operated twice a week. Flights to Hong Kong (HKG) resumed on Jan. 9 and are currently 3X-weekly.

Air France will expand frequencies to Shanghai to 3X-weekly from Feb. 3, with further growth planned. By July 1, the airline expects flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai to be operating daily.

The route to Shanghai will use Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with 369 seats, while Beijing and Hong Kong will utilize 279-seat 787-9s.

Air France has been operating in China since 1966, flying from and to the country up to 32 times per week before the pandemic. In addition to serving Beijing and Shanghai, the airline also operated a Wuhan (WUH) route.

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Since China eased travel rules for inbound travelers on Jan. 8, as well as dropping flight restrictions, nonstop scheduled capacity between the mainland and Europe has risen by about 15% to 47,000 two-way weekly seats, OAG data shows. By the start of the northern summer season in late March, the figure is expected to have doubled to almost 100,000 two-way weekly seats.

Air France’s network changes were announced as the Air France-KLM Group confirmed an order for three Airbus A350-900 passenger aircraft for Air France, as well as four A350F full freighter aircraft for Martinair.

The three A350-900s will replace previous-generation aircraft and brings the total number of the type expected by Air France to 41. Deliveries are expected in 2024.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.