AIR MADAGASCAR FIRST TO SIGN ON TO VANILLA ISLAND CONCEPT
(Posted 11th September 2013)
Air Madagascar was the first airline from within the newly formed Vanilla Island Tourism Organization to sign a formal cooperation agreement with them. When learning of the announcement made in La Reunion on Tuesday, that VITO, now facilitated with a budget of Euros 650.000 for the rest of their financial year and already recognized by UNWTO, which Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai was present on the occasion, airline executives flew promptly into La Reunion that same evening, worked out the modalities for the MoU, crossed the t’s and dotted the I’s before signing the next morning and then returning back to Antananarivo.
During their brief stay in La Reunion they also took the opportunity to announce the planned launch of a flight from Antananarivo to Mahe / Seychelles, commencing early next, year, which will greatly improve the connectivity between the two islands.
It was then also learned yesterday that the Ministers responsible for tourism, transport and joined by the top management of the four main Vanilla Islands’ airlines, Air Austral from La Reunion, Air Mauritius, Air Madagascar and Air Seychelles will meet in October on the Comoros, where they are expected to discuss and finalize a Memorandum of Understanding of increased cooperation.
Many questions by journalists present at the Reunion meetings, focused on present and future connectivity by air between the islands to facilitate easy and affordable access for tourists booked to visit one of them but wishing to also visit another. Ministers agreed that more needed to be done to enhance the present level of flights between the various islands and affirmed that the creation of a VITO airpass was put on the agenda, as was a modus operandum for the airlines vis a vis joint flights. Air Austral had already committed to relaunching flights between La Reunion and Mahe / Seychelles, though no details could be obtained if these flights would be an extension of the current flights to Mauritius and if so, with full 5th freedom traffic rights to uplift passengers between the waypoint and the final destination too.
(Smiles after the signing, from left to right Eric Koller (President of Madagascar Tourism Association), Hughes Ratsiferana (CEO, Air Madagascar), Minister St. Ange (President Iles Vanilles) & Pascal Viroleau (CEO, Iles Vanilles)
What is clear, and the swift reaction of Air Madagascar was evidence towards that end, is the new spirit of cooperation now that VITO is in place and an entity to reckon with. Close cooperation – 5th freedom rights included – will be limited to inter island cooperation and only benefit airlines from member countries and as such provide mutually beneficial arrangements for the individual airlines, which will remain separate companies but intensify marketing and logistical cooperation to create a wider network of destination and frequencies among the VITA island members. Watch this space of regular updates from the aviation scene of the Indian Ocean islands.