Seychelles Tourism saddened as Air Seychelles adjusts European network, remains confident in maintaining visitor numbers

Seychelles Tourism saddened as Air Seychelles adjusts European network, remains confident in maintaining visitor numbers

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) is saddened by Air Seychelles’ decision to adjust its European network affecting Germany and France, as it signifies reduced seat capacity to cater for future growth, but remains confident that the performance of the main tourism markets will be maintained in 2017.

The national airline announced on Monday that it will suspend its twice-weekly flights to Düsseldorf from September 10 and reduce its Paris operation from four to thrice-weekly flights from September 12.

Explaining the commercial decisions, the Chief Executive of Air Seychelles Roy Kinnear said an in-depth review of the Düsseldorf route, which started in March this year had showed that the service is unsustainable, and highlighted weakened demand for air travel out of France when it comes to the Paris flight.

In a statement, Air Seychelles Chairman Jean Weeling-Lee said: “Due to year on year increase of cost of fuel, an extremely competitive aviation market in Europe, and the high number of significant airlines already serving Seychelles though their connecting hubs, it unfortunately results in Air Seychelles being forced to consolidate these services.”

Commenting on the decisions on Wednesday, the STB Chief Executive, Mrs. Sherin Francis, said she is indeed saddened, as the extra capacity offered by Air Seychelles on the Düsseldorf flights for example, would have assisted the market in the medium to long term as the seats capacity filled up. The upcoming cancellation of the Düsseldorf flights also signifies a loss of marketing support for STB’s promotional efforts on the German market.

“The airline would have also been key during peak holiday periods where we are in competition with the other destinations for seats on airlines that go through the connecting hubs,” she added.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Francis said the Seychelles Tourism Board will continue working with other airlines already serving the destination, to maintain and increase visitor arrivals from these European markets.

“STB’s role is to promote the destination and Air Seychelles is our preferred airline when it comes to marketing the destination points, where they are actually flying to. But we also make it a point to work with all other airlines serving the destination, given our priority is to ensure that we are able to increase visitor arrivals from our major markets,” said Mrs. Francis.

“It’s always good to have direct flights, especially by your own national airline as this means the Seychelles’ experience starts the minute the client gets onboard, but unfortunately the [Düsseldorf] flight had to be stopped and STB will have no choice but to work with other airlines to maintain our performance on the German market,” she added.

Highlighting the importance of the German market, Air Seychelles’ CEO, Mr. Kinnear has already said that the airline will continue to work with its codeshare partners to offer one-stop connections via Paris with Air France and via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways.

Aside of several international airlines offering connections for German visitors from the main hubs, the Seychelles route is also served by German leisure airline, Condor, which operates two direct weekly flights to the island nation.

Mrs. Francis remarked that STB will continue with its role of promoting the destination whether direct flights are available or not, and when it comes to France she added that STB will continue to support and market Air Seychelles’ thrice-weekly flights to Paris in September.

“It’s important that we work together to make it work and hopefully later on in their planning they can go back to four flights when the market starts to grow again. But for now, it’s important that we support the three Air Seychelles flights as it still connects Seychelles to Paris and the rest of Europe,” said Mrs. Francis.

Statistics show that 23,963 French visitors have disembarked in Seychelles up to July 30th, representing a 3 percent decrease so far this year compared to the same period in 2016.

In spite of recording a slight drop, which can be linked to several factors including the French elections earlier this year, France remains a significant market for Seychelles and the STB is pleased that the figures have been maintained at almost the same level as last year.

“Now that the elections are over it is the moment for us to come up with strategies to stimulate demand and achieve growth on that market for next year,” Mrs. Francis added.

Germany on the other hand has taken the number one spot since June, surpassing France, which has long been the main tourism market for Seychelles.

According to latest statistics available from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Germany has sent 27,078 visitors to the island nation up to July 30, representing a 33 percent increase over last year’s figures.