China and Canada boost available frequencies through new air agreement

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Chinese and Canadian carriers will be able to add additional frequencies and expand codeshare services to new cities through an expanded air transport agreement for air travel between the two countries.

Ten additional frequencies will be allotted to Chinese and Canadian carriers through the new agreement for a total of 76 frequencies available on either side, the Canadian Government tells Flightglobal. Under the previous agreement, each country's carriers had access to 66 flights per week.

The expanded bilateral agreement also allows the carriers to add additional cities through code-sharing agreements. However, exact details on how many cities can be added is unclear.

Increasing service in China is a goal of Air Canada, which is embarking on a plan to increase international service as it begins adding five new Boeing 777-300s to its fleet this month and 37 Boeing 787s starting next year.

"This summer Air Canada has already added a total of seven weekly return flights to Beijing from Toronto and Vancouver, raising the number of Air Canada return flights to Beijing and Shanghai to 35 per week," says Ben Smith, Air Canada's executive vice-president and chief commercial officer in a statement. "The enhanced bilateral further expands opportunities for Air Canada to extend its coverage of cities in China in cooperation with our Star Alliance partners Air China and Shenzhen Airlines," he adds.

Air Canada is the only Canadian carrier offering mainline service to China, but domestic rival WestJet also has several partnerships with Chinese airlines. The carrier has a codeshare partnership with China Eastern Airlines and interline agreements with Air China and China Southern Airlines, which will each receive the opportunity to gain more weekly flights under the expanded bilateral agreement.

WestJet says it will not be materially affected by the new bilateral, but notes that the agreement could make it easier to forge future partnerships with Chinese airlines in the future.

In February 2012, Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper announced that it would expand the China-Canada Air Transport Agreement to replace a 2005 air services agreement between the two countries.