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An Air France 787-9 begins its takeoff roll at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Air France Ramps Up Flight Schedule as Restrictions Ease

Air France has announced its plan to increase the number of scheduled passenger flights it will offer in the summer as it expects a rise in passenger traffic over the coming period. According to the announcement released on Friday, it will serve passenger flights to nearly 150 destinations in the summer. The dramatic uptick will correspond to 80% of the usual network of the flag carrier of France.

With domestic and international commercial flights gradually resuming, there seems to be a revival in demand for air travel. The Paris, France-based airline will use 20% of its capacity by the end of June, which corresponds to a 80% drop compared to the rate of capacity utilization normally used during the summer period. The airline said it will add more flights in the following months, reaching 35% of the planned flight schedule in July and 40% in August.

The flight schedule will reach a peak point in the summer when the airline serves approximately 150 destinations, which represents 80% of its usual network. According to airline officials, priority will be given to strengthening its domestic network with the resumptions of routes between Paris and the French regions, as well as inter-regional routes, particularly to and from Corsica.

Air France will also reinstate flights to the French-administered territories outside Europe, as well as to Europe, mainly to the popular touristic hotspots like Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal. The airline’s long-haul operations, particularly cargo flights, will commence gradually in phases on a large scale of its network. It has been announced that the planned flight schedule will be operated by 106 of the 224 aircraft in the Air France fleet.

“We can see that people need to travel again and will gradually be resuming services to 150 destinations in France, Europe and the rest of the world this summer. After this difficult period, we are delighted to be welcoming our customers back on board, so that they can travel this summer and be reunited with their loved ones. All Air France staff, both on the ground and onboard, are committed to guaranteeing our passengers the highest levels of health and safety”, said Air France CEO Anne Rigail.

According to the flight schedule for July and August 2020 to and from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, the airline will operate flights to 19 cities in France and 10 destinations in French overseas territories. The airline plans to operate scheduled flights to 67 routes in Europe, which represents the most significant uptick among its destinations. Air France will fly to nine destinations in North America including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico, Montreal, New York, San Francisco and Toronto.

Meanwhile, the airline reminded passengers that the flight schedule is subject to change and remains subject to obtaining the required government authorization, meaning the airline might fail to reach its aim to reach 80% of capacity use in the summer holiday period.

EU countries reopen their borders for summer travel

France is one of the European countries that has reopened its borders to European travelers on Monday approximately three months after coronavirus-related travel restrictions went into force, which makes it possible for European residents to make journeys to the countries that lifted travel bans.

The lifting of travel restrictions and warnings has enabled European airlines to boost their scheduled passenger flights across the continent. Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aegean Airlines and KLM are among many major European airlines resuming or strengthening their flight network after a three-month period when commercial air travel came to a near standstill due to coronavirus pandemic-related issues.

The European Commission recommended on Thursday member states to lift internal border controls by June 15 and to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU until June 30.

“Following the lifting of all internal border checks inside the Union, we are proposing a clear and flexible approach towards removing restrictions on travel to the EU starting on 1 July. International travel is key for tourism and business, and for family and friends reconnecting,said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.

Although most European countries have reopened their doors to fellow Europeans, restrictions have not been removed regarding flights between European Union countries and non-EU countries. The European Commission recommended its member states to agree on a common list of non-EU countries for which travel restrictions can be lifted as of July 1 as travelers entering the EU can move freely from one country to another without border controls.

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