Starting from July 6th, Air France will operate a year-round route connecting Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Helsinki, Finland. The flight will operate four times a week until mid-July, when it will become a daily flight. The route will initially be operated using an Airbus A319.
The new flights add capacity on the popular route between France and Finland. Air France’s codesharing flights with Finnair will continue to operate the same route. The last time Air France operated regular, direct flights to Helsinki was over 20 years ago.
The additional flights will operate four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. However, from July 19th onwards, Air France will operate flights daily.
The flight will depart Paris at 13:00 local time, arriving in Helsinki at 17:00. The return flight departs Helsinki at 17;45, landing back in Paris at 19:50. Air France is deploying its A319 configured with 143 seats to cover this route. However, with the airline set to receive its first A220 in September, the A319 will likely be replaced with one of these new jets.
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Air France network increases
The new Helsinki route may be year-round, but its introduction coincides with some other additions to the Air France network. The airline will operate 81 seasonal routes this summer, including 23 new routes across Europe and North Africa.
Air France’s network increases signal a step-up in regional and domestic operations. Like many other European airlines, Air France appears to be focussing regionally until travel restrictions loosen for routes to the US and Asia. However, with so many restrictions still in place across Europe, Air France allows passengers to cancel flights, change bookings and get a full refund depending on the changing situation.
Retiring the A319s
An Airbus A319 will initially operate air France’s new route. The airline’s fleet of A319s has an average age of 19.8 years, according to Planespotters.net. It’s highly likely that in the next few years, as the airline phases out its aging A319s and A318s, the route will be taken over by new A220s. Air France has 60 A220-600s on order.
Delivery of the new A220s is scheduled to being later this year, so long as there are no delays. With fewer carbon emissions, newer technology, and quieter engines, the new A220 will be worth the wait. However, the airline hasn’t confirmed a final date by when all the A319s will be replaced.
As the airline also eventually plans to reduce its short-haul domestic network by allowing trains to operate domestic routes, the new A220s will be deployed on international routes across Europe and North Africa. Which routes get the first A220s will undoubtedly be decided by demand and passenger numbers as markets recover.
What do you think of the new route to Helsinki? Will it be a success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.