New European airline agreement to boost regional travel

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The Independent Travel

Regional travel in the UK and France is set to get a boost later this year thanks to a tie-up announced July 13 by Air France and British regional carrier Flybe.

The new relationship means that Flybe passengers will be able to book another five additional routes between the UK and France, along with seven new domestic French routes and 11 international routes via Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Air France customers will gain access to 45 new routes between France and the UK.

The deal also means that connections for both French and British passengers will get easier, with all Flybe services to Paris Charles de Gaulle connecting to the Air France hub and "seamless" connections through Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton for UK-bound passengers.

Neither carrier has confirmed the implication for frequent flier miles or for ancillary fees, which Flybe charges but Air France doesn't, although they are currently in discussion and details should be confirmed by the time the arrangement comes into effect by the end of October 2010.

The code-share arrangement - while well short of a full alliance or joint venture - is the latest in a series of attempts to consolidate the European airline industry.

On July 14, Europe's competition watchdog cleared the way for a British Airways and Iberia merger and a new trans-Atlantic alliance with American Airlines.

Last week, Italian carrier Alitalia announced a major tie-up with Air France/KLM and US airline Delta.