April 3, 2012 1:08 pm
The first ever Malta-bound Air France scheduled aircraft yesterday graced the runway of Malta International Airport.
The aeroplane, an Airbus 8319 which can carry some 150 people, ushered in a new series of twice-weekly scheduled flights from Toulouse, which is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in France.
France is also Malta’s fourth largest tourist market. During the past five years, French tourist arrivals increased from 72,000 to 103,000.
French tourists can now opt to board a Malta-bound aircraft from the Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris, Marseille and Toulouse.
“Malta is the place to be, today,” according to Air France KLM CEO Christian Lahccen, who commended the warm welcome given to the airline’s first clients on the island.
Malta will be featuring in Air France’s in-flight and e-magazines, and French journalists will also be brought over on informational visits as part of an on-going promotional campaign.
“However, apart from enhancing our existing markets, we also have to find new emerging ones,” Tourism Minister Mario de Marco said, adding that one such market – Israeli arrivals – had grown from 3,000 to 30,000 in three years. The Spanish market has also increased threefold to 60,000, from 20,000 in 2009.
Additional scheduled flights made it easier for tourists to reach Malta as a destination, he pointed out. In fact, the number of direct scheduled routes to Malta had increased from 47 in 2007 to 81 this year.
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