AIR Mauritius is expanding its UK sales team this winter as it increases frequencies from Heathrow.
Regional manager UK and Ireland Chris Gilbert is to appoint a second London-based sales manager and create two new sales executive posts.
The manager, who will work with UK sales manager Iqbal Bhayat, will join next month, with the sales executives arriving by October.
The appointments come as the airline prepares to launch a third weekly Heathrow-Mauritius flight on November 6 so it can compete more effectively with British Airways (Travel Weekly July 5).
"We need to be more pro-active and have account managers to compete with BA," said Gilbert.
The new posts are part of a £200,000 investment in the airline's UK operations. This also includes refurbishment of the carrier's head office in Conduit Street, central London, .
Gilbert said the new sales team will target UK firms which are involved in businesses on Mauritius to boost high-yield traffic.
He is also focusing on increasing the carrier's ties with the leisure side of the trade which accounts for 75% of Air Mauritius' business from the UK.
Gilbert said: "We have to support the trade and get behind the tour operator business of people like Kuoni, Hayes and Jarvis and Elegant Resorts." The new appointees will have specific roles for dealing with operators.
Future capacity growth is planned for both the Heathrow and Manchester services to Mauritius.
The Heathrow flight is due to be increased to four a week as soon as winter next year, with a fifth frequency planned for 2001.
This will help meet competition from BA, which is planning a fourth weekly flight from Gatwick this winter.
From Manchester, the airline is looking to replace a 181-seater Boeing 767 with a 301-seater Airbus A340 in the future.
Gilbert said the Air Mauritius and BA services alone should meet the needs of tour operators without putting too much capacity into the Indian Ocean market as charter flights are banned from flying to Mauritius.
"We want to make sure what has happened in the Caribbean with over capacity does not happen in the Indian Ocean," he added.
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