UK airline Flybe is to enter a marketing agreement with Air France which will improve flight options for passengers of both carriers, it was announced today.

Expected to start by the end of October, the codeshare deal will give Flybe passengers access to five additional routes between the UK and France as well as seven new domestic French routes and 11 international routes.

Air France codeshare customers will gain access to 45 new routes from France to the UK, as well as seamless connections through Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton on a further 17 UK domestic routes.

Flybe chairman and chief executive Jim French said: "This deal is a further milestone in Flybe’s growth. Having cemented our position as the UK’s number one domestic airline, we have sought to grow our position in our next most important market, which is the European business city market.

"The deal announced today with one of the world’s pre-eminent aviation groups allows us to extend our brand reach across continental Europe within the framework of this strategic partnership.

"The codeshare brings benefits for passengers and the two airlines alike. It’s a real win-win agreement."

Air France chief commercial officer Bruno Matheu said the agreement was "a major opportunity for Air France to strengthen its position in the UK".