ROUTES AFRICA DEAL SIGNED AND SEALED, ANOTHER FIRST FOR SEYCHELLES
The seventh Routes Africa Conference was signed and sealed last week when the organizers and the government of Seychelles put pen to paper to formalize the announcement made a few weeks ago, when in fact the global media were present in Victoria to report about the Carnival International de Victoria at the time the news were broken.
The choice by the organizers was widely hailed as bringing the Routes Africa concept to this part of Africa for the first time, also underscoring the growing importance of the African Indian Ocean islands as a major part of aviation developments on the continent.
Previous meetings took place in Casablanca, Cairo, Dakar, Marrakech, Swaziland and Bamako, but never on any of the Indian Ocean islands, and the Seychelles is set to celebrate this conference as it also coincides with the 40th year of jet aviation for the archipelago.
Airlines from Africa and those flying into Africa like the mega carriers of the Gulf Etihad, Qatar Airways and Emirates too are expected to have their route development experts on site and with between 150 and 200 delegates thought to come to the Seychelles the Routes Africa conference is surely going to be a success.
Notably this event comes at a time in Seychelles aviation history when more airlines than ever before are flying more often than ever before to Mahe, the latest entrant being Ethiopian Airlines which is set to commence 4 weekly flights from Addis Ababa to Mahe in a weeks time. The momentous changes at Air Seychelles too have been a talking point for African aviation experts, with Etihad acquiring a 40 percent stake a few months ago, catapulting the Seychellois national airline into a sudden position of prominence, having been found worthy to be Etihads latest investment target, while other ailing Indian Ocean island carriers still wait and hope for a saviour to come forward and throw them a similar lifeline too.
The choice for the Seychelles was largely a result of the now Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, last year speaking at the international routes conference and both networking on behalf of the Seychelles but also making waves with his speech, and the Seychelles Tourist Boards new Chief Executive Elsia Grandcourt then preparing the successful bid and seeing it come to fruition. Time for aviators to make a date with the Seychelles to be there between the 08th and 10th of July this year. Watch this space for updates.