BLUE PANORAMA TO SUSPEND FLIGHTS DUE TO ITALIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS
Information was received from the Seychelles that Blue Panorama, which stepped into the void left for direct flights between Italy and the archipelago after the dramatic cessation of flights by Air Seychelles earlier this year, has announced that come mid September they will suspend for the time being operations to Mahe.
The airline cited insufficient numbers for their decision to suspend operations, generally blaming the weak Italian economy on the decline in passengers.
The news were received with mixed feelings by the Seychellois tourism trade, remembering all too well the fallout and significant loss of travelers from France, after the direct flights were halted, and one source from Mahe said in an email response: Passengers, of course depending on the fares, prefer nonstop flights when traveling long haul. True, there are enough options now to fly to Seychelles through the Gulfs hubs of Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai, but it always involves a stop and a change of planes. Some markets are more sensitive to such changes as we saw in France so there is work to be done in Italy. The tourist board and private sector have to talk to the travel agents and the tour operators to accept the situation and start using for instance Etihad and then connect from Abu Dhabi with Air Seychelles to Mahe. The alternative is to use Qatar Airways or Emirates to come here. There are enough seats available to keep our momentum for 2012 in motion but it is one challenge we did not need. It is always mixed publicity when an airline drops a destination and similar to when Air Austral decided against flying from Paris via Mahe to Reunion, although there were also other issues in play. For now Seychelles is ahead of 2011 in numbers and on track to beat the 200.000 arrival mark for the first time. What happens now we shall have to see.
No formal reaction has yet been seen from official sources in the Seychelles but it is expected that regret will be expressed, with understanding that adverse market conditions in Italy are ultimately held responsible for this regrettable development. Watch this space.