QATAR AIRWAYS ANNOUNCES PULL OUT FROM SEYCHELLES
Tourism industry sources reacted with shock and incredulity when news broke over the weekend that Qatar Airways, presently serving Mahe with a daily flight, using an Airbus A320, will be ceasing operations into the archipelago come September this year.
Sources on the island, probably for fear of repercussions when being associated with named quotes on this sensitive subject, were swift to point to the significantly higher cost of ground handling at Mahe’s international airport, which has in the past driven other airlines away, the last being Blue Panorama from Italy which left after investing heavily in promoting the route after Air Seychelles had pulled out of Italy in early 2012.
‘It is an open secret that several airlines have complained in the past about the very high cost of ground handling in Mahe. This adds a lot of extra cost and in comparison with other similar destinations we are very expensive.
It is something which has to be discussed if we are to try and keep Qatar Airways here. Losing a daily flight is not sending a good message to the market. Qatar is expanding fast to other destinations and they were offering a one stop service to Mahe from their network. This is negative publicity when we need it the least and we should try to find out what really made Qatar make this announcement. Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye’ said one of the regular sources when discussing the development.
Others were equally reluctant to be drawn into the discussion, expressing regret and hope that something could be done to keep Qatar Airways in the skies over the Seychelles.
‘Perhaps if Qatar pulls out, Emirates can step in and go to a full twice a day service, or Air Seychelles and Etihad could add more seats? I only hope that it has nothing to do with Qatar finding the partnership between Air Seychelles and Etihad was their main issue they had besides the cost of handling. Because if that has played any role in their decision it might reflect badly on other airlines thinking of coming here. It is a fine line we have to walk here, promoting tourism requires airline partners, and if there is even a slight notion that some partnerships are favoured over others, that could have a big impact on our marketing’ said another, expressing some worries which had come to the surface before. Three months and counting now for the exit of Qatar Airways, in what must have been a difficult decision for the airline otherwise set to expand and add destinations, not drop them. Watch this space for regular and breaking news updates from the Indian Ocean aviation industry.