AFFRA’s recognition that “Air Seychelles has been one of the successful African airlines over the past several decades” is timely encouragement for the airline, which is an integral part of the “Seychelles brand” of tourism, national pride, and tradition, and with its 3 aircraft, it has a distinct advantage as the primary long-haul, non-stop carrier, which offers travelers the comfort of arriving directly on Seychelles’ shores from Europe.
The Seychelles Tourism Board has welcomed a statement by the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) acknowledging the government’s support for Air Seychelles in the face of financial difficulties and the call for other African governments to support their national airline.
Given the economic reality that the Seychelles tourism industry cannot expand with the limited seat capacity of Air Seychelles to bring all the visitors to its shores, the granting of market access to 2 international carriers over the last decade has given a considerable advantage to the Seychelles tourism industry, which saw a record 174,000 visitors to the islands in 2010.
While AFRAA is concerned for the sudden and uncontrolled opening up of market access without adequate preparation of the local airlines in some African countries, the Seychelles example has been a model of a gradual and controlled introduction of new airlines and flights, where the national airline was given utmost consideration.
During his visit to Air Seychelles recently, Seychelles President James Michel reiterated the importance of the national airline when he said: “Air Seychelles is the lifeline of our tourism industry. … I can guarantee to you that it will survive. Seychellois staff will not lose their jobs, and we will make sure the company prospers with the new management structures coming into place. … We have to fly our Creole spirit around the world! … I am convinced that Air Seychelles will continue to do so.”
The Seychelles government will continue to give Air Seychelles the support it needs to regain its financial profitability and to be competitive as an airline that provides a high-quality service, and in this way continue to lead as the best airlines in the region.