MONTREAL - Air Canada (TSX:AC.A) announced Friday it will double its capacity to serve routes between Toronto and China this the fall, increasing travel between the two countries for business and leisure.

The airline said China's designation of Canada as an approved travel destination comes after many years of negotiations.

"It makes Canada an even more attractive destination for business and leisure travel, resulting in significant economic spin-offs for the Canadian economy and for the Canadian tourism sector in particular," Air Canada chief operating officer Duncan Dee said in a statement.

The airline says it will introduce daily flights between its main hub in Toronto and three major Chinese cities (Shanghei, Beijing and Hong Kong) in addition to existing year-round flights the between Vancouver and those destinations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the visiting president of China, Hu Jintao, are supporting improved economic ties between the two countries.

Included in documents signed Thursday was a memorandum to ease group travel from China to Canada.

Air Canada also said the designation builds on its presence in China and Asia. Canada's flagship carrier is the 15th largest commercial airline in the world and serves 31 million customers annually.