The civil aviation authorities of France and China have agreed to a new bilateral air services agreement (BASA), opening the way for more flights operated by more carriers between the two countries. France's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) signed the deal on March 31.

Le Figaro reports that that the new agreement will see flights between the two countries more than double from 50 per week (each) to 126 over the next three years. Currently, Air France (AF, Paris CDG), Aigle Azur (ZI, Paris Orly) and Air Austral (UU, St. Denis de la RĂ©union) are authorised to fly China routes (although only Air France does), and they will now be joined by XL Airways France (SE, Paris CDG) and another as yet unnamed airline. For the Chinese, the agreement will increase the number of carriers from six to eight.

The agreement has focused on building connections between regional areas, particularly as at the moment all flights to France land in Paris CDG. An additional five cities in each country will be included. Currently, the following Chinese cities are already served: Shanghai Pudong, Beijing Capital, Guangzhou, Xi'an Xianyang, Kunming Changshui, Chengdu, and Wuhan. The new BASA has also lifted restrictions on aircraft types, which will allow Air France to deploy its A380-800 aircraft on flights to Beijing.

According to Air Journal France, China has been at its maximum allowable capacity for France flights since December 2015 and Chinese carriers are expected to be pleased with the increased availability.

The Union of French Airports (UAF) has welcomed the new BASA. In a press release, President of the UAF, Jean-Michel Vernhes, called it a "leap forward" and hailed it as an opportunity for France to catch up to Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain in terms of connectivity. "The French authorities have fully recognized, in the course of these negotiations, the importance of air connectivity in the economic and social development of our Territories," Vernhes said.