Air Austral to begin Australia-Paris flights

French carrier Air Austral will begin servicing the Australian international market next week, offering travellers a twice-weekly service to Paris via Reunion Island in the southern Indian Ocean.

The flights, which will begin on April 14, leave Sydney on Tuesdays and Saturdays and travel via Reunion Island on a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

The carrier is based on Reunion Island, which is nearby Mauritius, and is one of France's overseas departments and therefore part of the European Union.

Sydney Airport chief executive Russell Balding said Air Austral offered another choice for Australians wishing to travel to Paris.

"Air Austral provides Australian travellers with the opportunity to fly directly to Reunion or to France with a new and different stopover," Mr Balding said.

Mr Balding said Air Austral's new service also provides French travellers with more choice when flying to Australia.

"This is good news for our tourism industry," he said.

"Air Austral's new service makes Sydney even more accessible to the European market."

There were more than 300,000 French passengers travelling to and from Australia in 2008, he said.

Air Austral has signed an interline agreement with Virgin Blue that allows travellers to fly on a single ticket on either carrier's networks in Australia and France.

Other new international carriers touching down at Sydney Airport in 2009 include V Australia, Delta Air Lines and Qatar Airways.