Air France Adds Nice-Heathrow, Secures US Approval For ITA Codeshares

France’s flag-carrier is opening a second route to the UK capital this summer and has received the green light to begin codesharing with Italy’s ITA on transatlantic routes to the US.

Credit: Joe Pries

Air France is launching a new seasonal service to the UK in July with the addition of flights between Nice and London.

The route will see the SkyTeam alliance member enter an already competitive leisure market that is largely dominated by British Airways (BA) and easyJet transporting vacationers to the south of France.

From July 9, Air France intends to start flying between Nice Cote d’Azur (NCE) and London Heathrow (LHR), offering daily service using Airbus A320 aircraft.

Flights will depart Nice at 3.40 p.m., arriving in the UK capital at 4.35 p.m. The return service leaves at 5.35 p.m. and arrives back in Nice at 8.30 p.m. The schedule is in place through Aug. 28.

The launch of the route puts Air France in direct competition with BA, which expects to serve LHR-NCE up to eight times per day during the peak summer 2022 season, providing more than 17,000 two-way seats.

In addition, BA will serve Nice from London Gatwick (LGW) and London City (LCY), offering a combined 7,600 two-way weekly seats from the two airports, while easyJet will operate about 19,500 two-way across its routes from Gatwick and London Luton (LTN).

Ryanair also plans to fly to the French city from London Stansted (STN) four times per week this summer, offering about 1,500 weekly seats.

According to OAG Schedules Analyser data, overall capacity between the two cities will therefore be around 48,000 seats for the week commencing July 11, giving Air France about 5% of the market. For the same week in 2019, capacity on a city pair basis was around 44,900 seats.

The addition of Nice-London Heathrow becomes Air France’s second route to the airport. Since selling CityJet in 2014—which served a number of European destinations from London City under the Air France brand—the airline has only operated flights to the UK capital from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG).

Alongside the network expansion, the US Transportation Department (DOT) has given Air France the go-ahead to begin codesharing with Italy’s new flag-carrier ITA on transatlantic routes to the US.

Following the decision, Air France will be able to place its code on ITA’s flights between Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and New York John F Kennedy (JFK), while in turn ITA will place its code on 11 Air France routes to the US from Paris Charles de Gaulle and one from Paris Orly (ORY).

The 11 destinations from CDG are to Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), New York JFK, San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA) and Washington Dulles (IAD). Flights between Paris Orly and New York JFK are also covered by the agreement.

The SkyTeam members launched a codeshare partnership in early December, saying the arrangement would open up 12 ITA destinations in Italy and Southern Europe for Air France passengers and “a large variety” of Air France destinations for ITA passengers.