AIR SEYCHELLES STARTS TICKET SALES FOR HONGKONG AS APPROVALS GRANTED
A regular source from Victoria has confirmed that national airline Air Seychelles has now opened up bookings and ticket sales for Hong Kong, the carrier’s next destination with flights expected to commence early 2013.
A second Airbus A330-200 is expected to join the fleet in January at which time the airline will start to fly three times a week between Mahe, via Abu Dhabi, to Hong Kong every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Another source, close to the airline, defended the decision to drop earlier plans to fly nonstop to China and routing the flight via Abu Dhabi, saying that the code shared operation will give Air Seychelles partner Etihad the opportunity to also offer Hong Kong, a destination they are not flying to until now, which in turn will attract higher load factors for passengers and cargo. ‘You know the financial history of Air Seychelles. The airline has turned the tide but cannot afford to operate nonstop for now because the load factors would not make the route viable for some time. It is therefore better to fly via Abu Dhabi and take additional traffic on board there so that our operation can get into the black a lot faster. Air Seychelles has to make money at a very early stage on this flight but if loads out of China grow a nonstop flight to Mahe can be looked at’ said the source on condition of anonymity, happily granted considering past reactions from the airlines’ executive suite.
Tourism stakeholders on the archipelago have expressed their excitement over the new connection to China, still hesitant though over the one stop operation, as the Chinese market has shown the fastest growth in recent years and offers a potential for doubling arrival numbers next year when the connection is available. ‘My colleagues would prefer a nonstop flight like Air Mauritius will be offering to Port Louis. It is more competitive. Right now Emirates and Qatar are connecting traffic from China through their hubs. We should be looking at nonstop to beat that detour and make flights faster between Seychelles and China. But we also understand the financial reasons why for now they go via Abu Dhabi. As long as our own national airline can eventually go nonstop when there is enough traffic, the same as we are asking for Paris by the way’ said a regular contributor who is also a senior stakeholder in the tourism sector, clearly speaking not just for himself but his colleagues too.
For now though, all eyes will be on Air Seychelles when in early January the second Airbus arrives and flights to Hong Kong start. Happy Landings as and when and watch this space.