Flybe and Air France have announced a tie up that will connect passengers from UK regional airports to flights around the world.
The carriers’ extensive code-share deal, the first of its kind for Flybe, will connect passengers from the UK regions to Air France’s worldwide network through Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The agreement represents a significant step on the way to bypassing Heathrow as the main international departure point from the UK. It will come into effect at the end of October.
Flybe has grown rapidly in recent years to become the UK’s biggest domestic carrier, with France as its second market. It operates 45 routes between the UK and France and is the busiest scheduled carrier at 11 UK regional airports.
The deal will swell Air France’s international traffic from the UK, building on the operation it has already built at Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle airports.
Flybe chairman and chief executive Jim French described the agreement as “a milestone”. He said: “The deal allows us to extend our brand reach across continental Europe.”
Air France chief commercial officer Bruno Matheu said: “We have watched Flybe’s growth and development with great interest. This is a major opportunity for Air France to strengthen its position in the UK.”
The code-share deal does not extend to Air France sister carrier KLM despite the pair choosing to be called Air France-KLM since their merger in 2004. Flybe operates only to routes to KLM’s hub at Amsterdam Schiphol.