If you don't think your government ever stands up to foreigners on behalf of its citizens, take a look at what it is doing for Trans World Airlines.

That airline wants to change the configuration on its international flights to Paris, removing some seats to "allow roomier seating for the benefit of its passengers," according to a notice in the April 6 Federal Register (page 20577).

French aviation officials, however, have not approved the changes, demanding that TWA increase the price of tickets for this new "international ambassador class service." The apparent rationale offered from Paris is that the new class costs the airline more and that cost ought to be added to the price of the ticket.

Shortly after TWA's change got hung up by the French bureaucracy, Air France came to the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board in a separate action, asking for authority to shave $71 off the fares on its Paris-to-Washington supersonic Concorde flight -- down to just $1,651 for a one-way ticket. The reason given was that Air France was cutting out its direct Concorde flights from Paris to and from Washington, instead routing its Washington through New York. The $1,651 fare is the same it charges its nonstop New York passengers, making the Washington leg free, in effect, for those who wanted to go on.

The CAB has decided to give the French tit for tat.

"Application of the same fully allocated cost principles . . ." that the French are aplying to TWA, the CAB notice says, "requires denial of decreases in the fares for the Concorde service, which is even now unquestionably priced below fully allocated costs."

Triumphantly, the CAB declared that "the government of France's refusal to permit TWA to set its own prices and standards of aervice" left the U.S. agency with "no recourse other than to deny Air France's proposal. . . ."

The matter has been turned over to the Department of State for settlement, the CAB hoping that is can be resolved so that travelers on both Air France and TWA can benefit from the lower fares and better service.