Flybe is working alongside Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in pursuit of codeshares with intercontinental Asian carriers, chief executive Jim French said in a media briefing on 8 November.
Senior representatives from the UK regional carrier accompanied a delegation from MAG on a visit to China three weeks ago, he confirms, adding that negotiations with multiple Asian carriers are progressing well.
Pointing to growing support for secondary UK hubs, French says: "There is at last recognition in political circles that whilst radial rail from London is an excellent solution, there is no such thing as radial rail in the regions. I think people are beginning to understand politically that aviation does matter."
He adds that the acquisition and subsequent closure of BMI by British Airways parent International Airlines Group has "caused some angst" among Heathrow-based interline carriers, who now feel "totally dependant" on the UK flag carrier to provide feeder traffic from UK cities.
Insisting that secondary airports offer a viable alternative to long-haul services from Heathrow, French says: "Those operators who are looking for intercontinental feed now have an opportunity to work with us out of Manchester."
In October, Flybe requested approval from the US Department of Transportation for a blanket codeshare deal with United Airlines and US Airways. The move related to wet-leased services operated by Flybe on behalf of Brussels Airlines, which already has codeshare agreements with the two US carriers.
The unallied UK airline also has codeshare deals in place with Air France, KLM, British Airways and Etihad.