Dozens of new connections will become possible between the UK regions and beyond via Paris CDG thanks to a code-share deal being finalised between Air France and budget carrier Flybe.
Starting from the end of October the plan is that:
- Flybe’s flight code “BE” will appear on a number of Air France operated flights linking airports in the UK regions with Paris CDG. Examples are: Newcastle-Paris, Edinburgh-Paris and Manchester-Paris.
- The same BE code will also appear on a number of Air France flights departing Paris CDG for various European destinations including Budapest, Geneva, Istanbul, Lyon, Madrid, Munich, Sofia and Vienna.
- Under the same programme, the plan is that Air France will apply its “AF” code to Flybe services which operate from London and the UK regions to Paris CDG and regional towns and cities in France. Examples include: Exeter-Paris, Birmingham-Avignon and London Gatwick to Bergerac.
So what is in it for the passenger ?
It means that passengers will be able make easier connections at Paris CDG. Right now Flybe operates into CDG’s T1 which is inconvenient for making connections with Air France and other carriers belonging to the Skyteam alliance who depart from T2. But from the end of October, Flybe will move from T1 into T2.
It also means that passengers from regional airports can avail themselves of more connecting possibilities. Flybe is primarily a point-to-point carrier selling separate tickets which means that many passengers cannot through check. And when passengers do purchase separate tickets via Paris the fare will be much higher as the ex-Paris price will be quoted in Euros.
Under this new marketing link with Air France, Flybe passengers will be able to purchase through tickets in GBP (pounds sterling) for all codeshare routes and will be able to through check their bags and so on. It means that it would be possible to fly (via Paris CDG) from Exeter to Geneva, Glasgow to Budapest or Southampton-Vienna.
Two main concerns centre around the different business models operated by Flybe and Air France. The former is a budget carrier so ancillary charges are commonplace whereas Air France is a full-service airline.
Niall Duffy, Flybe’s head of PR and public affairs was unable to confirm whether or not Flybe services (code-shared with Air France) would be eligible for Air France/KLM FFP miles. This is “something under discussion between ourselves and Air France” he told Business Traveller.
Another concern is the ancillary fees. Flybe charges for baggage checking, food and drink on board and so on. Says Niall Duffy, “We’re in discussion with Air France to see how we can get round this issue.
In the case of food and drinks on board it may mean we issue passengers with a voucher which they redeem on board. We already have an ‘economy flex’ tariff where passengers who pay more are given vouchers for lounge access, drinks on board and so on.”
If all goes according to plan the changes will take effect from the start of the winter timetable.
For more information visit flybe.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter