MIAMI — Air France will be enhancing its flight schedule for summer 2016 with two additional routes. Starting in April, the airline will operate three weekly flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport in Iran. One month later, Air France will begin service from New York to Paris-Orly, in addition to the four daily frequencies to Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The last SkyTeam carrier to serve the route was Delta Air Lines in 2009, closed after the ongoing global crisis at the time. Air France’s presence in New York is reaching seven decades of existence. The route to Paris was launched in July 1946 with a DC-4 service, and quickly became one of the most iconic (and lucrative) routes of the golden era of air travel, with the introduction of the Boeing 707 service in the 1960s, the Boeing 747 ten years later and the Concorde in 1977. Recently, the route was also the first ever operated by Air France’s Airbus A380. The new route will be operated with its 309-seat Boeing 777-200s.
Although currently dominating the New York- Paris route in terms of available seats, the airline expects to see a change in the coming months as it is rumored that Norwegian may start Paris – New York flights soon. The move is seen as a defense to a profitable route ahead of a Low-Cost carrier that has progressively built a strong presence in New York, especially now as Norwegian has just started flights from New York to the French Caribbean, and presently has links from New York to four of its main bases in Europe. So far, the route is only served by OpenSkies, a France-based transatlantic airline owned by British Airways (BA).
These are turbulent times for Air France, with a sour labor relationship and severe fleet cuts expected to occur in the coming months. The last thing the airline needs is to incur a struggle for survival in one of its premium routes with a very well organized and expansive low-cost carrier.
Air France is also supporting the resumption of commercial exchange with Iran, after the agreement reached last July on Tehran’s nuclear program, thus leading to an easing of the sanctions imposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to a statement, “This route shows Air France’s eagerness to expand in a country with buoyant growth – the European Union is Iran’s fourth most important economic partner.”