XL Airways France (SE, Paris CDG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Air Austral (UU, St. Denis de la Réunion) concerning the coordination of their operations to the French Indian Ocean region beginning in the second half of 2017.

Key to the initiative is codesharing, the alignment of flight schedules, and the opening of new routes between metropolitan France and the island of St. Denis de la Réunion.

As such, Air Austral will resume flights to Marseilles on October 12, 2017, with a 2x weekly service. XL Airways will codeshare on the route which will operate onboard B777-300(ER) equipment.

For its part, XL Airways will introduce a direct Lyon St. Exupéry-Reunion service during the second half of the year on which Air Austral will place its own "UU" flightcode.

Aside from frequent-flyer programme cooperation, XL Airways will also have access to Air Austral's Indianoceanie network covering Madagascar, Mauritius and Mayotte.

"Four years almost to the day after our first landing at Roland Garros, I am proud to sign this agreement that seals our commitment to serving Reunion. It is a strong message, confirmation that the work carried out has borne fruit and that XL Airways is today a key player in serving Reunion Island. We are now moving to a higher gear and are resolutely geared towards growth, hand in hand with Air Austral. Unity is strength!" said Laurent Magnin, Chairman and CEO of XL Airways.

The partnership is expected to allow the two carriers to better compete with Groupe Dubreuil's French Blue (BF, Paris Orly) long haul LCC initiative which is scheduled to make its France-Reunion market debut in June next year.

It is recalled that XL Airways had considered Air Austral as a potential partner before settling on La Compagnie (B0, Paris Orly).