Air Canada has signed an agreement with Air China to create a joint venture (JV) with the aim of expanding their existing codeshare deals and increasing commercial cooperation on flights between Canada and China.

Passengers flying between the two countries on Air Canada and Air China flights are also expected to benefit from new products and services as part of the JV.

This is the first JV agreement between a Chinese and North American airline. It is scheduled to be operational in a phased manner over the next six months.

Air China chairman Jianjiang Cai said: “The Sino-Canada market is one of the important long-haul markets to Air China, which has been developed rapidly in recent years with an increase of 17.8% in 2017.

“A Joint Venture framework will offer a wider range of products and quality services and provide more flexible flight choices.”

“Air China and Air Canada as Star Alliance members have the foundation of a profound cooperation and under a Joint Venture framework will offer a wider range of products and quality services, and provide more flexible flight choices, favourable fare products and seamless travel experiences for customers.”

Air China’s newly expanded codeshare deal with Air China became effective on 5 May 2018.

The deal has increased the number of Canada-China connecting flights by 564 each day.

Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu said: “Having served China for more than 30 years, and as demonstrated by Air Canada’s average annual capacity growth of 12.5% over five years and the $2bn of aircraft assets currently committed on routes between Canada and China, China is an integral part of our global network.”

Currently, Air Canada and Air China operate a total of 52 trans-Pacific flights per week between the countries.