Air France ramps up flights to US as borders reopen

The airline is set to increase weekly flights from France to more US destinations, and aims to recover 70-75% of its usual winter capacity as it hopes ‘the peak of the crisis has passed’

7 November 2021
Air France Boeing 777 airplane at New York John F. Kennedy airport (JFK) in the US

Air France is set to rapidly increase its flights to the US this winter after borders to North America reopen Pic: Lukas Wunderlich / Shutterstock

By Hannah Thompson

Air France is planning to rapidly increase its flights to the US this winter after borders to North America reopen from tomorrow (Monday, November 8).

The airline will offer 122 flights per week to the US from tomorrow, versus 95 currently.

Director general Anne Rigail told BMFTV: “We’ve been waiting a long time. We hope the peak of the crisis is behind us.”

She said: “This is excellent news for Air France, and globally for Air-France KLM, because North America is our main long-haul network. Before Covid, it represented 40% of our long-haul flights across the group.

“We’re not starting from zero because we never stopped serving the US, including during the worst moments of the crisis,” she said, with a “lifeline” having continued towards major cities.

The announcement from American authorities that fully vaccinated and tested passengers will be able to visit the US had a “very positive and immediate” effect on reservations, Ms Rigail said.

More flights will be available towards New York, Miami, and Seattle, in particular.

Air France is also “restoring” the network with routes “in the function of demand”, Ms Rigail said, including destinations in Canada.

“We are optimistic that we can get back to between 70% and 75% of our overall capacity this winter, compared to 60% this summer,” she said.

All tickets will continue to be fee-free to change or for refunds until the day of departure, until March 31, 2022.

 

Flexibility as recovery remains slow

Ms Rigail said that the airline would continue to be flexible depending on the health situation worldwide, as it can change so quickly. 

She said: “We are adjusting our programme every week, and we’ve given up gazing into a crystal ball. When it comes to the reopening of China [for example], it’s very difficult.”

The airline is also seeking to encourage business passengers to come back, with these passengers returning less quickly than leisure travellers. 

Ms Rigail said: “We hope that the peak of the crisis has passed and that the recovery will be constant. 

“But while it seems much more solid now with the reopening of the US, the recovery has been longer than we could have imagined at the very beginning of the crisis.”

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