A tie-up between Flybe and Air France that opens up new intercontinental routes for customers flying from local airports will be a boost to agents in the regions.
The airlines have agreed an extensive code-share deal, giving clients the option of flying from regional airports including Exeter and Southampton to join long-haul flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The tie-up is the first of its kind for the regional carrier and a step toward bypassing Heathrow as the only international departure point from some regions. The agreement will come into effect at the end of October.
Anthony Goord of Goord Travel in Plymouth welcomed the move. “If the connections and fares are right, it will be a bonus for Exeter and a big help to the agency. You can link to almost anywhere through Paris. But it will be important to see the routes connect properly. You don’t want people waiting around.”
Anthony Ogden of Travelbank Worldchoice in Berry Pomeroy, near Totnes in Devon, said: “People here are resigned to flying from London. This would be a good option from Exeter. There is sure to be interest.”
Air France operates its own services from Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
It also has code-share arrangements with carriers such as Air Mauritius that could prove useful.
Flybe has grown rapidly to become the UK’s biggest domestic carrier, with France as its second market. Chairman and chief executive Jim French described the deal as “a milestone”.
Flybe flies to Paris from Exeter, Southampton, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast and Jersey.
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