France Becomes The Latest To Restrict Flights From China

France has become the latest country to restrict flights from China. Following difficulties in Air France gaining rights to fly its allotted three services a week from France to China, French authorities have responded by only allowing Chinese airlines to fly once a week to Paris. The French embassy in Beijing says it hopes a solution can be found soon.

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Chinese airlines will only be allowed to fly to France once a week. Photo: Pixabay

One Chinese service a week

France has this week restricted the number of flights by Chinee airlines into its nation to just one per week. In a notice on its website, the French embassy in Beijing said,

Air traffic between France and China is currently experiencing disruptions due to the imbalance in services between French and Chinese companies. Discussions are underway between the two governments with a view to reaching a solution satisfactory to both parties.

Until these discussions are concluded, it is recommended that you regularly check with the airline on which you have reserved a seat to check your flight is going ahead, including on the day of departure. Indeed, some companies are marketing places on unauthorized flights and only cancel these flights at the last moment when they have known for several days that it will not be able to take place.

We will notify you when the situation returns to normal.

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China Eastern Airlines A350-900
The restriction affects three Chinese airlines. Photo: Airbus

Elsewhere on the website, it says that from July 13th, only one weekly trip to France would be allowed for Chinese airlines. It says that discussions are underway between the two governments to find a solution to this.

A tit for tat row?

While it would be logical to think that these flight restrictions were something to do with worries over the spread of coronavirus or other biosecurity issues, the reality seems to be that it is a tit for tat restriction. According to Reuters, it’s all about reciprocal flight rights.

The publication said that, from July 12th, Beijing had authorized Air France to operate three flights a week to China. In return, France had permitted Air China, China Eastern and China Southern to operate a number of flights to Paris from various Chinese cities.

However, in reality, China was only allowing Air France to lay on one service per week between Paris and China. This was authorized to Shanghai, a service which resumed on June 18th and has been operating every Friday since. None of the other two flights have been granted, which seems to be the motivation for restricting Chinese flights to France.

Air France Boeing 777
Air France restarted flights to Shanghai in mid-June, but was expecting to fly to China three times per week. Photo: Air France

The embassy says,

France hopes to be able to continue and improve connectivity with China and is working on a concerted and balanced increase in traffic rights on both sides, in the interests of passengers and trade between the two countries.

This is not the first time China has come up against problems when looking to restart international flights. Back in May, US airlines, including Delta and United, were blocked from obtaining permission to fly into China. In reaction to this, the United States government prevented Chinese airlines from flying into the States.

Delta Shanghai
Delta was being affected by China’s reluctance to grant permission. Photo: Getty Images

Feeling pressure from this block, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) released a statement on June 4th that said US airlines would be allowed to operate one flight per week to China. By mid-June, this had eased further, with both countries allowing four weekly flights in either direction.

France is likely hoping for a swift resolution to the situation too. Although flights are likely to remain limited for some time, with no direct flights to Beijing, there is still some pent up demand that airlines from both nations can help to satisfy.