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Air Seychelles not impeding 7th slot for Emirates

As was almost predictable, the Seychelles national airline,

Air Seychelles not impeding 7th slot for Emirates

As was almost predictable, the Seychelles national airline, Air Seychelles, responded to allegations made in the open letter recently published here at eTurboNews from the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA), in regards to the issues raised about their own performance and issues pertaining to them and the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA). In the ongoing interest of providing a balanced picture, their response is published here. Thanks go to Capt. David Savy, executive chairman of Air Seychelles, for his input:

“Air Seychelles categorically refutes the allegation that the SCAA or Air Seychelles as a ground handler is impeding Emirates’ (EK) 7th frequency. The SCAA has offered EK alternate timings. The timings specifically requested by Emirates on a Thursday morning is totally unrealistic given congestion at the international airport.

“The Seychelles international airport is currently designed to process no more than 500 passengers per 90 minutes. The principal limitation being that in check-in facilities and baggage sorting areas.

“Typically, the airport is subjected to peaks on certain mornings and on Saturday nights. Otherwise, the airport is idle and under utilized at other times.

“Accepting the Emirates timings would have meant 4 arrivals within 30 minutes and 3 departures within 40 minutes. With all the goodwill in the world, the current infrastructure cannot accommodate this. The other operators would face delays and passengers greater inconvenience.

“Emirates currently operates 4 morning flights and 2 afternoon/evening flights weekly. The proposal to Emirates was to operate the seventh service in the afternoon/evening or if they had to do so in the morning, it had to be done prior or just after the peak timings.

“Emirates, like Air Seychelles, is subject to slot and airport restrictions to most airports it operates to and what was proposed to Emirates is no different.

“The SCAA and Ministry of Transport is actively looking at increasing the arrival and departure halls to alleviate the current congestion.

“Extensive works were carried out to the International terminal and long-term aircraft parking last year to alleviate congestion at peak times.

“The current apron can only accommodate safely 4 wide-body aircraft at any one time.

“A 5th parking position is possible but when used, there is an encroachment on the parking of domestic aircraft.

“Likewise the expansion and enhancement of the domestic terminal is long overdue.

“The government has plans to build a new international terminal to meet the growing demand from airlines but a start date has yet to be announced.

“As until a totally new facility becomes operational, flights will have to be spaced out so that passengers are not inconvenienced.”

In closing, this correspondent confirms that the extra flight Air Seychelles operates into the UK since earlier this year, was not given permission by the UK authorities to fly to London Heathrow but had to route to London Gatwick, in the absence of available slots, requiring Air Seychelles to set up a costly parallel operation at London’s second airport, while awaiting a slot to be granted at Heathrow. This lends credence to the comments made last week by a source close to the SCAA and underscores the above comments from Air Seychelles, that capacity restrictions rather than the alleged ill will are the main cause for the request to Emirates to shift their arrival times for their planned 7th flight, as already two of the six current flights arrive at an alternate slot.

It was also learned from aviation sources in the Gulf that Emirates is considering operating their seventy frequency to arrive in the evening, as two of their flights already do, which in view of their ever-improving connectivity in Dubai with other flight arrivals, would still give swift connections to passengers flying to the Seychelles via Dubai.