French government suspends nearly all flights outside Schengen Area

Apr 21, 2020

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Update 3:40 pm.: The French government has clarified that nearly all non-Schengen Area flights to France are to stop. Some flights will still be carried out from outside the Schengen Area in order to bring French citizens home.

An Air France spokesperson confirmed to TPG that the airline is now operating between 5% and 10% of its flights, with limited non-Schengen destinations. The spokesperson also confirmed that Air France’s planned May operations will continue to operate.

The French government has elected to suspend all international flights outside of the Schengen Area.

French Transport and Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that the country will not allow flights to operate between France and non-Schengen Area countries, according to Reuters.

“There are no more international flights outside the Schengen zone”, Borne told French RTL radio.

The announcement means that Air France will be forced to suspend operations to and from the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Prior to the announcement, Air France was already operating a “skeleton operation”, which it expected to last until May.

Related: What is the Schengen Area and what European countries are included?

Given that the U.K. and Ireland are not members of the Schengen Area, Air France will likely be forced to suspend its operations to London, Edinburgh and Dublin, which it had still been operating, according to its website. It’ll also be forced to cancel all routes to the U.S. that it was still operating — New York and Los Angeles.

TPG reached out to Air France for comment on which routes it’ll still operate given the new restrictions but did not receive a response by time of publication.

The restrictions will also affect other international carriers that were still operating to France. Fellow French carrier La Compagnie, which operates between Paris and New York, had already suspended all operations through 31 May. Similarly, French Bee had already suspended all operations through 12 June.

Last week, Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith painted a bleak picture as to when flying might return to normal. Smith said that he expects operations to gradually resume. By June, Smith expects 20% of capacity (seat kilometres offered) to be restored, followed by 40% of capacity restored in July, 60% in August and 75% by the fourth quarter.

However, he said that it will take two years for air traffic level to reach the same point as 2019.

Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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