Air France announced on Friday that it would be ramping up its summer schedule further, as air traffic demand begins to trickle back. The gradual increase of services and frequencies will continue to unfold over the coming two months, reaching a total of 80% of the carrier’s network.
Focus on French regions
The French flag carrier said today in a statement seen by Simple Flying that it would be accelerating its flight resumptions over the summer holiday period. The priority will be to strengthening its domestic network.
By the end of June, the flights will represent 20% of the capacity usually deployed at this time of year. The airline had previously planned for 15%, and so its estimate has been optimistically updated, albeit cautiously so.
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The resumptions will continue throughout July and August, focusing on services between Paris and the French regions, inter-regional services, and the launch of seasonal routes.
By the end of summer, Air France will operate a total of 27 inter-regional routes that will connect to close to 150 destinations worldwide from its Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub, which is close to 80% of the carrier’s usual network.
First out of Paris-Orly in nearly three months
The airline will also be among the first to resume flights from Paris-Orly when the airport reopens on June 26th. To begin with, Air France will only operate a seasonal route to Corsica from the French capital’s second airport that has been closed since March 31st.
All other Air France flights normally departing from Orly will continue to fly from CDG until further notice.
Pandemic low-point of 3%
The number of flights to French overseas departments and territories will also increase as will services to Europe, mostly to Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal.
At the lowest points throughout the pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions, Air France was operating a mere 3 to 5% of its usual schedule and served only 43 destinations.
For anyone wanting to travel to France or French overseas territories, granted there are no restrictions in place, it is now compulsory to fill out a Certificate of International Travel. The certificates can be downloaded from the French Ministry of Interior and must be presented before boarding and upon arrival.
The wearing of face masks is compulsory on all Air France flights, and the airline is performing temperature checks before departure.
Some routes may not return
Even though the airline is eager to resume services to domestic destinations, some routes may not return to the network. The conditions the French government has placed on the €7 billion ($7.7bn) state-guaranteed loan stipulate that the carrier must not compete with TGV services where there are rail connections of 2.5 hours or less.
Even so, it is great to see carriers adding more flights to their schedules than they planned for. Although passenger demand is bound to remain stifled for a long time to come, perhaps people will be more willing to travel with the “new normal” than the darkest forecasts have suggested.