Europe's airline giant Air France signed an agreement in Guangzhou Thursday with China Southern, one of China's leading airlines, to jointly operate Guangzhou-Paris flight services.
The new route will take off on January 6, 2004, with Air France making the flights in the initial stages.
The agreement calls for China Southern to purchase blocks of seats on flights with both sides setting up exchanges of seats when China Southern's flight services begin on June 28, 2004.
Air France uses its Airbus 340s and China Southern will use Boeing 777s for the flights. The airlines' customers will have a choice of 11 flights a week between Guangzhou and Paris.
The flights will allow Air France to become the first European airline company to link its routes to Guangzhou, as well as the first European airline company to fly to Chinese mainland's most important flight hubs of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. It will also add a new passenger flight to Europe for China Southern, which has operated routes to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Patrick Alexandre, Air France's executive vice-president, is confident of promising prospects for the new business, saying he bases his upbeat analysis on intensifying market demands due to the increasingly busy political, economic, social and cultural exchanges between Guangdong Province and France.
The position of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport as one of the world's largest airports, the dense flight network and tailored services of Air France are also pluses for the new route to gain favor among passengers in Guangzhou, and the mainland as a whole, he noted.
More than 2,000 seats have been booked for the first month of the flight, officials said.
(China Daily November 28, 2003)