Information at hand suggests that Air Austral, the home airline of the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, will commence B787 Dreamliner operations on June with an inaugural service from the island’s main airport, Roland Garros International, to mainland France.
This development follows hot on the heels of the formal announcement by Airbus that Air Austral had cancelled the order for two all economy versions of the A380, which were due for delivery in late 2017.
Both aircraft production slots however were swiftly sold on, reportedly to Emirates, similar to the deal when Japan’s Skymark A380s were eventually absorbed by parent company ANA.
The introduction of the two B787s solve problems for both Boeing and Air Austral at once.
Air Austral, just at the start of the busy summer season from France, the island’s largest market for tourists, will gain much needed capacity and Boeing managed to offload two of the remaining early “heavy versions” of the B787 Dreamliner, which did not meet the lower weight specs promised to airlines, a problem since then of course resolved.
Ethiopian Airlines had done a similar deal with Boeing to boost their B787 fleet and while losing some payload will both airlines be able to operate out of their hubs to the shorter long-haul destinations without any restrictions on passenger numbers.
Reunion’s tourism board, IRT, will together with the Seychelles next week host the 6th annual Carnival International de Victoria on the island of Mahe and presently flies twice a week between their capital city of St. Denis and Mahe. IRT has over the past two years pulled out all stops to promote the island and Visa waivers for South Africans, and given certain conditions to be met for Chinese and Indian travelers, have boosted arrival numbers.
The demand has translated into traffic gains by Air Austral where their fleet of ATR 72s, B737-800s and B777-300ER will by the end of May be boosted by 2 new B787 Dreamliners.