Air France Launching Denver Flights

Filed Under: Air France/KLM

While we’ve seen airlines launch all kinds of short haul leisure routes during the pandemic, we haven’t seen many new transatlantic routes. Well, here’s a noteworthy exception.

Air France launching Paris to Denver flights

Air France will be launching a new flight between Paris and Denver, which as of now is scheduled to operate between July 2 and October 29, 2021. As of now it appears that this is a seasonal flight, though I imagine it has the potential to be extended, since Colorado is also popular in the winter.

The new flight will operate 3x weekly, on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with the following schedule:

AF630 Paris to Denver departing 1:10PM arriving 3:20PM
AF631 Denver to Paris departing 5:30PM arriving 10:50AM (+1 day)

Air France’s newest transatlantic route

The ~4,885 mile flight is blocked at 10hr10min westbound and 9hr20min eastbound.

Air France will use a Boeing 787-9 for the route, featuring 276 seats, including 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 225 economy seats.

Air France’s Boeing 787-9 business class

What an interesting route!

I’ve gotta say, this is a fascinating addition to Air France’s route network. It’s one thing if this route were added in 2019, but seeing it added in 2021 makes it even more of a surprise.

Here are a few initial thoughts & observations about this:

  • Denver is a Star Alliance hub, and Lufthansa and United currently dominate the transatlantic market there, given the connectivity they have on both ends
  • British Airways has also historically operated a flight to Denver and has done quite well with it, but it’s currently suspended
  • This will be the first transatlantic SkyTeam flight to Denver, and also Air France’s first time serving the airport
  • As of now there are still reciprocal travel bans in place, as the US is banning people from France, and France is banning people from the US; it’s noted that this service starting is “contingent on changes to travel bans currently in effect”
  • I find the seasonality of the route interesting, since arguably this route could be just as popular in winter (for people looking to go skiing) as in summer (where there are other types of outdoor activities)
  • Norwegian operated a Paris to Denver route a couple of years ago, but the airline has ceased long haul operations

This is going to be worth keeping an eye on — I’m curious if the flight launches at all, and if so, if it continues next summer, or is possibly even extended into a year-round service.

Air France’s Boeing 787-9 business class

Bottom line

Air France will be launching a new summer seasonal route between Paris and Denver in 2021. With this development, all three global alliances will offer transatlantic flights to Denver. The Star Alliance continues to dominate transatlantic service in Denver, while British Airways is repping oneworld with its typical London flight.

I could have totally seen this route being launched in 2019, though seeing it launched this year is particularly surprising, in my opinion, given the current travel restrictions.

What do you make of Air France’s Denver flight? Do you think it will launch, and if so, do you think it will be extended into a year-round service, and/or return next summer?

(Tip of the hat to @AirlineFlyer)

  1. Didn’t Norwegian operate this route during the summer pre-pandemic? If so, this route addition makes more sense.

  2. Why would anyone from Europe going skiing in Colorado when the Alps are right there? Is Colorado skiing actually popular with Europeans? That seems like a stretch to me. I’d assume this route is mostly to take Coloradans to Europe, which probably won’t happen (much) this year. Not an odd route, per se (Air France has flown to IAH forever, for example) but it is odd timing.

  3. @dfw88 Have you been skiing at some of the big resorts in Colorado? (Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek,etc) Its not just about skiing, but about being seen in your flashy ski suit. After Americans, a large number of people form South American, but you also see a lot of Europeans there as well. I doubt if they are going to go to Arapaho Basin or Eldora.

  4. The French love skiing, but the vast majority stay in France to ski (given there are so many good resorts). Of the tiny minority that ski abroad, only a handful will go to the States. If they run CDG-DEN in the winter, it won’t be full of European skiers.

  5. Flights to colorado are actually busier in the summer/ there’s more travel then than during the winter, even though winter has some notable peaks (christmas/ new years, President’s Day, parts of March for spring break). Europeans definitely go to Colorado to ski – totally different scenery and setting than in Europe. I dont like skiing in europe as much – all glaciar skiing. More about scenery than the actual skiing.

  6. Lots of Frogs apparently planning to join in those upcoming 4th of July backyard BBQs.

    Yee-haw, and Vive la France. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, and pass the ketchup, pardner.

  7. @dfw88: If you look at the schedule, AF will be flying mostly in summer and fall, not in winter.

    Besides skiing, CO/ Denver is a hot spot for visiting national parks, camping, hiking, biking over the summer and fall.

    We have been to Swiss and French Alps for skiing, Aspen is very good too. I actually prefer Aspen, Park City or Taos because of the green and the snow-capped mountains (it’s very scenic) and just not the white snow/ ice like in European skiing trails.

  8. I’ll keep an eye on this one. I prefer a longer red-eye to Europe on a SkyTeam carrier so it’s a nice option if it works out. I’d be glad to fly 4 hours West from ATL to go Eastward on a 10 hour flight to Europe instead of the 6 hour flight from ATL to Europe. Traditionally DL and AF/KLM have made redemptions punitive for me to go ATL:SLC:CDG/AMS, maybe with DEN not being a hub it might price differently, though everything comes down to revenue fare to points conversions anyway.

    Agree with others that the Mountain West is a popular spot during the pandemic given all of the outdoor opportunities; I would expect that trend to continue for a while. It’s interesting that KLM operates SLC:AMS and DL operates SLC:CDG. I guess it made sense for AF to pick up the DEN:CDG rather than a second SLC:CDG on AF metal in addition to DL.

  9. Honestly DEN is ripe for competition. The city is growing like crazy and there are very few non-stop international routes. Hoping this forces United to step up their game and stop operating faux-laris biz class out of DEN

  10. Making this route possible is the likelihood that AF won’t be doubling up to places like BOS, which, this year, can clearly be done with one daily flight. That frees up a plane for DEN.

  11. I think this may do well. The IAH AF flight was almost always full back pre-covid with a good mix of business and leisure travelers.

  12. I’m kind of surprised United haven’t tried CDG from DEN before.

    I can’t see the French skiing in Colorado, and vice versa.

  13. Any chance AF will offer 3, 5, or 7 day all-inclusive packages to the City of Light, including hotels, tots, etc?

  14. I wish this flight existed before I moved from DEN last year. The seasonal Norwegian flight was just okay and nobody ever sought to copy. Now that I live in the CLT area, there’s annoyingly no nonstop to CDG. I’m hoping AA brings it back post-COVID, but the announcement last summer didn’t seem hopeful. The DL nonstop from RDU never seems to have good cash or SkyMiles fares.

    My hope is that post-COVID we’ll see even greater demand for nonstop transatlantic flights on 787/A350 that don’t rely on hub feeder traffic.

  15. People forget that Delta has a pretty good presence at Denver, despite not calling it a hub or focus city. So, you could easily connect through Denver on Delta from Paris.

    The flight times, however, suck. 5:30 pm departure? Ouch. Good luck sleeping on that flight, unless you get wasted on French champagne.

  16. In order to maintain the capacity balance between carriers, Air France probably needed to add some new flight because they will be operating much fewer flights and no A380s while Delta is already restarting most of its CDG flights.
    DEN is a decent market, CDG is the best Skyteam Euro hub for developing new transatlantic markets, and DL’s operation at DEN is already in concourse A where Air France will undoubtedly operate and be handled by DL employees.

  17. There are quite a few European skiers in Colorado. Remember, it’s 3 flights per week (if it continues into the winter). You don’t need 10% of France on the flight, only a couple hundred people per week which will also include people connecting on AF’s route network into CDG.

  18. @dfw88 – Living in Vail and Aspen much of my adult life, I will tell you that Europeans flock there in the winter and LOVE skiing there. Not only for the dry powdery snow which is only unique to Colorado/Utah (not Europe) but also to “see and be seen” by the rich and famous. Now it will be interesting to see if Delta Connection flights are offered to get passengers into ASE, EGE, DRO, Steamboat and Telluride.

  19. Before the pandemic, if I needed to fly between Denver and Paris, I connected through London, Frankfurt, or Reykjavik.

  20. @dfw,
    It is clear you haven’t skiied enough in Colorado. LH and BA planes are full of skis/boards in winter.

    LH in fact used to upgauge FRA-DEN during ski season.
    You should get out more.

  21. Interesting for anyone in the west who likes to fly AF metal on a modern aircraft. At 5pm departure it seems ok – better than the hideous 3pm departures from IAH and LAX

  22. Denver is headquarters for mining companies (Newmont) that send out their teams regularly to Africa. Af covers west Africa better than BA in particular francophone countries where these companies have operations (guinea Mali Burkina Faso sénégal) and has nonstops to Ghana — all of which are big gold mining spots. I always understood the AF flight to CDG was to serve oil companies working in port harcourt Nigeria where AF ran convenient flights from Paris. Especially after United cancelled its weird nonstop from IAH to Lagos a few years ago (an obvious oil flight). I think there’s more to AF’s decision than just eco- class tourism.

  23. @dfw88 You’re not wrong the Alps are right there, but this question is like asking why someone from one beach area would go on vacation to Hawaii, etc. And, skiing in the Alps vs. Rockies is qualitatively different in terms of terrain, snow type, altitude, etc.

  24. After U.S. skiers, and moneyed Brazilians and residents of Mexico City, Europeans of all sorts love skiing in Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Beaver Creek, and Jackson Hole. The snow is dry powder and they can’t believe we ski with majestic trees amongst most elevations. Just stand in line for the gondola to Ajax + you’ll hear all the European languages. I can see this AF CDG-DEN flight extending beyond Summer.

  25. DEN has come a long way in volume and connectivity over the last several years. As the new 39 gates come online, the airport is ripe for new international destinations, especially with newer more fuel eficiente and long range aircraft. I agree with PH, in that United may begin to step up their game with 90 gates and begin to utilize the great connectivity for more international flights. As I try to ski weekly, I can say that Colorado welcome an amazing number of European skiing guests. Denver and Colorado welcome AF!

  26. You realise it’s not purely aimed at skiers. There is plenty of connecting traffic via Paris that might fill up a flight

  27. Don’t underestimate the allure of summer outdoor activities in the inter-mountain States like Utah and Colorado that are otherwise known for their snow activities.

    This route makes a lot more sense when you consider that a lot of athletes train and lives in Denver (or Colorado in general) due to their high altitude. Many athletes, cyclists in particular, train there in the summer.

    Not saying that AF is creating the route for pro athletes. But as a summer destination Colorado is quite attractive for outdoor enthusiasts with all the mountains and trails (hiking/MTB/etc)

    Sure the Alps have that too, but it’s just different having been to both. They are both unique and fun in their own ways.

  28. @ DLPTATL

    The flight times between ATL/DEN and CDG are almost the same. You’re looking at a airborne time difference of 30 min or less. There’s no such thing at a 6 hour TATL from Atlanta. Maybe you’re thinking BOS-LHR?

  29. @dfw88 IAH route for AF is not odd If you think that AF have big ties with the Oil & Gas companies, and per se Houston is the Oil & Gas world capital. It’s so important this amount of business for AF that they have a specialized “Flying Blue Petroleum” (many years ago was called Petroleum Club) which give “special perks” in special when you are making connections through their CDG hub.

  30. @dfw88 like others have posted, plenty of people come from Europe to ski in the winter. Actually, that’s how we got our first case of COVID-19 in Colorado – a tourist from Italy coming to visit and ski with his girlfriend brought it.

  31. R DFW88 “Why would anyone from Europe going skiing in Colorado when the Alps are right there? Is Colorado skiing actually popular with Europeans? That seems like a stretch to me”

    Well I have done it for 7 of the last 8 Winters from the UK, along with a BA 747 full of passengers throughout the winter. I never go at peak times, and quite frankly The French Alps would be about the bottom of my list or places to visit again, and I have been there plenty of times!

    The lack of rude French people and their inability to behave in a civilized manner in the “Lift Line” and stuck up Brits who frequent the 3 Valleys is a major bonus when travelling west, a and the warm welcome and laid back nature in the USA and Canada is fantastic. The Alps however offer more breathtaking scenery, longer runs and reasonably priced lift tickets in comparison, so its horses for courses!

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