Ethiopian Airlines set for October return to the Seychelles


(Posted 19th March 2014)

After ending their flights from Addis Ababa to the Seychelles on the 01st of March – Ethiopian had only launched the service in January 2012 – did news emerge that the airline may be planning a return to the archipelago as early as October this year.

Initially operating four flights a week before later on reducing it to three flights a week, Ethiopian Airlines was after Kenya Airways only the second African carrier with flight links to the Seychelles, offering their African and international passengers onward connections to Mahe.

Unlike rivals Kenya Airways however did Ethiopian clearly struggle to make the numbers work and though no specific reasons were given when the withdrawal was announced a few months ago, there was speculation over the cost of handling at the international airport on Mahe.

Only recently did the Seychelles Minister of Home Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan meet airline representatives, besides discussing air access with the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce to hear first hand from the air operators and the main users of airline services what issues they have, what problems they encounter and what solutions they were seeking to ensure that connectivity to the mid Indian Ocean archipelago was not just assured but that the number of seats would continue to grow to facilitate the much needed increase in visitor numbers.

Ethiopian was the third airline to pull out of the Seychelles over the past 2 years, the first being Italy’s Blue Panorama, followed by Qatar Airways, while only Mihin Lanka has since commenced flights between Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo. Air Austral, which last year had expressed their desire to operate regular flights from Paris to St. Denis via Mahe, never did start that service but has recently announced that come June they will commence scheduled flights between Reunion and the Seychelles with initially two flights a week.

Tourism stakeholders had expressed their concern to this correspondent as well as gone on record back home that in order to meet growth targets for 2014 more airline seats, not less were needed, with reference to the pull out by Ethiopian Airlines and the reduction of flights from 12 a week to 7 a week by Emirates during the period from May to July, when the two runways at the Dubai International Airport are due to be re-surfaced and DXB had to institute capacity caps on all airlines operating to Dubai.

The October return of Ethiopian Airlines, once again using a Boeing B737NG aircraft for the service, has however boosted confidence among key players on the islands.

Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from the Indian Ocean islands.

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