AUSTRAL LAUNCHES CHENNAI-REUNION ISLAND DIRECT FLIGHTS

French airline Air Austral on Tuesday launched a direct Reunion Island- Chennai service and announced a collaboration with Air India to provide connecting flights for some major cities of India. Earlier, the company had its services from Reunion to Bangkok via Chennai. The announcement was made by the officials of Air Austral at a gala event in the presence of Miss India-World Priyadarshini Chatterjee and actor-director Rahul Vohra. Many politicians of Reunion Island, the Indian diaspora and officials of the Reunion Tourism Board were present on the occasion.

India's Consul General Sanjeev Kumar Bhati, who was also present at the inaugural function, lauded the efforts of Air Austral. "Let's hope the number of Indian tourists increase. Unlike Mauritius, we have not seen many Indian tourists to the Island. But once Miss India returns to her country and has good words for the Island, I hope in near future we would be able to surpass Mauritius in terms of Indian tourists here," Bhati said. On the occasion, the company also introduced a low-cost winter schedule of its flights between Reunion Island and Chennai, and from Chennai to Reunion Island.

"The company, in collaboration with Air India, will soon arrange for its passengers, the connecting flights from Chennai to other Indian states," an Air Austral official said. Not many in India would have heard about Saint-Denis de la Reunion, the administrative capital of Reunion Island, and its strong cultural links with India, he added. There are 2.50 lakh Indians in Reunion, which is an overseas French region, of which 1.25 lakh are Tamils and the rest Gujaratis. Before 2012, one had to travel to Mauritius to reach Reunion, which is located close to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. In February 2012, Air Austral introduced a direct service to Reunion on the Bangkok-Chennai sector.

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