Maldives in talks with Air France to promote tourism ahead of direct flight launch

Maldives has announced negotiations with Air France to promote Maldives tourism in Europe, ahead of the start of direct flights to the Indian Ocean island nation by France’s flagship carrier.

Air France announced late last year that it would begin operating direct flights to the Maldives in November 2017. The airline said it would be offering two weekly flights to the Maldives main Velana International Airport on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Haris Mohamed, acting chief of the state tourism promotion company Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), told local news website Avas on Wednesday that first round of negotiations have been held with Air France. Further discussions would be held where both parties would explore avenues to jointly promote the Maldives’ tourism industry in France and the whole of Europe, he added.

“With the launch of direct operations by Air France, European travellers can reach the Maldives in 10 hours. Right now there is a travel time of 15 hours and many transit points,” Haris said.

Air France will become the only airline operating direct flights between Europe and Maldives. European travellers are now required to take transit routes on airlines such as Emirates and Sri Lankan Airlines.

Air France flights will be operated by Boeing 777-200 equipped with the latest Air France travel cabins, and with a capacity of 312 seats including 28 in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 260 in Economy. Flights operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays on departure from Paris and on Thursdays and Sundays on departure from Male.

Europe is the single biggest source market for the Maldives tourism industry with a share of over 50 percent of the total arrivals. According to official figures, the European marked observed an year on year increase of 13.5 percent in the first two months of this year.

 

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