Air Austral, lina French airline, introduced a direct service to Reunion on the Bangkok-Chennai sector in February

Not many here would have heard about Saint-Denis de la Reunion, the administrative capital of Reunion Island, and its strong cultural link with the Tamil Diaspora. There are 2.40 lakh Indians in the Reunion, which is an overseas French region, of which 1.20 lakh are Tamils and the rest Guajaratis.

Till recently, one had to travel to Mauritius to reach the Reunion, which is located close to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Air Austral, a French airline, introduced a direct service to Reunion on the Bangkok-Chennai sector in February and it was officially announced on Thursday. To coincide with the launch, a 70-member delegation headed by Didier Robert, President of the Reunion Island, was in the city till Thursday to promote tourism, trade and cultural links between TN and the island. It is well known that France has a strong economic presence in TN, with more than a quarter of the $ 18 billion French investments in India being concentrated in the State. The French presence include Michelin, Renault, Saint Gobain, Alstom, Areva and Elgis Rail, which is building Chennai Metro Rail.

France’s Ambassador to India, Francois Richier, is on an official visit to Chennai till Thursday to review economic cooperation and seek collaboration in the field of higher education between France and TN. Mr. Richier’s itinerary includes meeting with top officials of Indian companies, visit to the Renault-Nissan factory in Oragadam, heads of French Small and Medium Enterprises and Ajay Parida, Executive Director of MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. Two flights from the Island will reach Chennai on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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