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France is hoping that flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) would consider a direct Manila-Paris flight in its plans to open a new route to Europe.

French Ambassador to the Philippines Marie Fontanel said Wednesday a memorandum of understanding was signed between PAL and Paris-based airport operator Aéroports de Paris (ADP) in June to explore the possibility of a nonstop flight.

“(I)t’s more in the hand(s) of the Philippines Airlines to choose the hub that is more interesting for them to connect,” Fontanel told reporters in an interview in Makati City.

“I can of course, as ambassador, [make a] plea in favor of choosing a direct flight destination to Paris because Paris is a very important hub in Europe.”

Paris, she said, would be a “good choice” as France is part of the European Union and could serve as a “hub” for tourists entering the Schengen area.

“I know London is also one of the considerations and I understand perfectly why but knowing the United Kingdom is not EU anymore and Schengen, it’s also good that you have a hub in EU, Europe” she added.

Fontanel and Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco met on Dec. 5 and discussed a possible cooperation in the travel sector.

The Department of Tourism said it is also lobbying for more direct flights to more European and commercially viable countries, including Paris.

France is the Philippines’ 16th largest source of foreign travelers, with 46,472 arrivals recorded from January to November this year.

Before the pandemic, French visitors to the Philippines reached 88,577 and France was the country’s third largest market in Europe, next to the UK and Germany. (PNA)