Last week saw the last flight from Mahe, en route to London with a stopover in Frankfurt, as the Seychellois national airline decided to drop the main German gateway from their schedule due to a streamlining in operations. While discussing the matter, an airline staff said that they found it hard to compete with the Gulf-based airlines, flying from Frankfurt via Qatar or Dubai to the Seychelles, in terms of fares, while the recent opening of the Seychelles Tourist Board office in London, and the appointment of tourism ambassadors in other cities, was expected to produce substantially more passenger demand for nonstop flights between the UK and the archipelago. However, added frequencies of such carriers has, in fact, added extra seat capacity for the Seychelles, where growing arrival numbers depend on both the national airline and foreign airlines working together.
Notably, there is a total absence of inclusive tour charters, as for instance seen to the Kenya coast or other long-haul beach destinations, but by confining air transport to scheduled flights governed by bilateral air services agreements has also kept the quality of visitors up, something tourism officials have been keen to maintain.
While on visit to the archipelago, it was also learned that Air Seychelles bagged an ACMI long-term contract for one of their B767-300s to fly for the UK’s Ministry of Defense to the Falklands on a regular basis, keeping part of their long-haul fleet in employment and generating revenues, as the tourism market continues its recovery towards fuller occupancies once again, albeit still at substantial discounting factors, which have eaten into the yield. Air Seychelles’ chief executive officer, Capt. David Savy, however, expressed his confidence that after the first loss in the last two decades last year, the airline is expected to break even in the 2009/10 financial year and will be looking at a return to profitability in 2010/11. He acknowledged his grateful appreciation to the government in Victoria for their ongoing support and understanding of the difficult times this airline, as most others around the globe had to face and adjust to over the past 18 months.
The airline is seen as a strategic tool by the Seychellois government to ensure connections to key overseas destinations so as to be certain of constant operations even if foreign airlines would, as it had happened in the past, opt to drop Mahe from their list of destinations.
Besides the international, Air Seychelles also operates a network of inter-island connections, operated by light aircraft up to the size of the ATR.
The management of Air Seychelles in Mahe has now confirmed that their Frankfurt stop, enroute to London Heathrow, will only be shelved after the forthcoming Easter season, and not before as has initially been confirmed.