July 13, 2020 / 2:11 PM / 22 days ago

France reduces Chinese flights to Paris in tit-for-tat row

PARIS (Reuters) - France on Monday started restricting Chinese airlines to one passenger flight per week, saying it was acting in response to curbs imposed by Beijing on French carriers.

“From July 13, Chinese companies will only be authorised to make one weekly trip,” the French embassy in Beijing said on its website. “Discussions are underway between the two governments with a view to reaching a satisfactory solution.”

China’s state aviation regulator, CAAC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The French embassy said three Chinese carriers, Air China, China Eastern Airlines Corp, and China Southern Airlines Co, were each authorised to make weekly flights from Chinese cities to Paris.

It said that, under a June 12 reciprocal arrangement, Air France had been authorised by Beijing to carry out three flights a week to China but that, in practice, Chinese authorities had only allowed one Air France flight per week.

It said France was applying intense diplomatic pressure to get the go-ahead from Beijing for the extra flights. In the meantime, it advised travellers to be prepared for disruption to air links between the countries.

The Chinese embassy in France said in a post on its social media account that the French government was asking to land all three weekly flights operated by Air France in Shanghai.

But given the number of international flights Shanghai is receiving, the city faces immense pressure in terms of virus control efforts, the embassy said, adding it was puzzled by the French decision to slash Chinese flights just as Shanghai agreed to receive the second Air France flight.

“We hope France would re-examine relevant decisions in consideration of the broad Sino-French relations, return to the path of dialogues and consultations, meet China halfway and properly resolve flight-related matters between the two countries,” the embassy said.

Reporting by Christian Lowe in Paris and Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Ed Osmond and Himani Sarkar

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