New airline cooperation extends to cover the African Indian Ocean islands


(Posted 25th September 2015)

The national airlines of the Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar together with Reunion’s Air Austral and Inter Iles Air of the Comoros earlier in the week signed a cooperation pact aimed to pave the way to greater air links between these Vanilla Islands organization members. Aptly named the ‘Vanilla Alliance’ is the new airline cooperative now working hand in hand to improve both trade and tourism links among the islands in order to reap economic benefits.

The event was witnessed by the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission, aka Commission de l’Océan Indien Mr. Jean-Claude de l’Estrac and the Madagascar President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina who said the agreement would go a long way towards boosting tourism and economic development in the region.

In 2010 did the Indian Ocean island nations of Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion, Mayotte and Maldives initiated a joint travel brand under the banner ‘Vanilla Islands’ or ‘Iles Vanilles‘.

Talks on greater regional connectivity started in 2012, initiated by Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange who long held the view that tourism and aviation need to work more closely together, later embraced by the Routes Africa meeting which was held in the Seychelles that year. The process was then led by the Indian Ocean Commission, an organization established in 1982 in Mauritius, before being institutionalized as an intergovernmental organisation of its five member countries by the Victoria Agreement in the Seychelles in 1984.

Calls to establish ‘l’Alliance Vanille’ resulted from consultations between a committee of airlines and civil aviation authorities established at the end of a ministerial conference of the IOC on air transport and tourism convened in the Seychelles in July 2014 which built on earlier efforts started with the preparations of the Routes Africa Summit in Victoria in 2012.

The participating airlines now have a working group in place which will progress such practical issues like schedule alignment, potential code share deals, interline agreements and shared facilities at the respective hub airports. One immediate opportunity will be the invitation of Air Seychelles by the government of the Comoros to offer flights between Moroni and Mahe, linking to the scheduled onwards flights to Paris.

Proponents of the Vanilla Island cooperation concept will no doubt be pleased to see such practical progress being made and led by the aviation industry without which tourism to these islands would literally be impossible.

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