Air France Extends China Flight Suspension Until Mid March

Air France has extended its flight suspension to Chinese destinations until the middle of March. The suspension is due to the ongoing coronavirus situation which is most prevalent in China.

Air France, KLM, China
Air France has said it won’t fly to mainland China until at least March 2020. Photo: Air France

Air France initially suspended flights to China on the 30th of January last week. The suspension had initially been planned to last until the 9th of February. However, now the suspension has been increased until at least the 16th of March. Additionally, the Air France-KLM group believes that it will be able to resume flights as usual by the 29th of March 2020, however, this could change given how the situation plays out.

What’s the latest?

Air France has now said that it will not operate any flights to mainland China until the 16th of March. It had been planning to resume flights on Sunday. However, given the latest statistics from the World Health Organisation, tied with advice from various governments, the coronavirus crisis won’t have been solved by then.

As a result, the airline has today extended its suspension on flights until the 16th of March at the earliest. The airline doesn’t foresee a full flight schedule being resumed until the 29th of March, at which point it anticipates a return to Wuhan.

Air France, KLM, China
The airline currently plans to resume flights to Wuhan on the 29th of March. Photo: Air France

How will the flight resumption work?

Air France won’t just flick a switch and resume its full complement of services to the Chinese mainland. Instead, the French flag carrier will slowly ramp up services. This will be achieved in conjunction with its Dutch partner KLM.

Both of the airlines fly to China. Between the 16th and 28th of March, the French flag carrier currently plans to fly once per day to China. First to Beijing, then Shanghai, Beijing, Shanghai, etc… Meanwhile, KLM will operate the alternate route to Air France. This way every day there will be a KLM or Air France flight to both Beijing and Shanghai.

Air France, KLM, China
Flights could resume as early as the 16th of March pending the evolution of the situation. Photo: Air France

Air France states that the health and safety of its customers and staff are its absolute priorities. As a result, the evolution of the situation in China could affect this return to service. However, if all goes as planned, Air France KLM also plans to resume its flights to Wuhan on the 29th of March.

Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Last month the city was quarantined, with various governments operating rescue flights for their citizens. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization at the time of writing, 70% of globally reported coronavirus cases are in the Hubei province which contains Wuhan.

Do you think Air France will be able to continue flights on the 16th of March, or will the date be pushed back further? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.