Air Seychelles turns the corner with a million US Dollar profit


Air Seychelles CEO Cramer Ball used the opportunity, when President James Alix Michel officially commissioned the national airline’s second Airbus A330-200 earlier in the week, to announce the airline’s financial results had dramatically improved, turning a million US Dollar profit, compared to the life threatening losses the airline made before partner Etihad came on board 15 months ago, acquired a 40 percent stake and injected a 20 million US Dollar working capital into the company, besides seconding senior management in an overhaul at the top.

The airline will now commence flights to Hong Kong, via Abu Dhabi, initially 3 times a week, in a full code share with Etihad Airways, which does not operate flights to HKG, and the second Airbus now available will also allow to add more frequencies to Johannesburg, Mauritius and Abu Dhabi.

According to a source close to the airline there are no immediate plans to resume any nonstop flights to Europe but Air Seychelles will continue to concentrate on partnerships, like the recently entered codeshare agreements with Germany’s second largest airline Air Berlin, to receive additional traffic at their ‘second hub’ in Abu Dhabi and then bring tourists and business visitors from there to the archipelago. ‘The financial turnaround has been achieved by cutting cost. Dropping European destinations was necessary to accomplish that. The 6 weekly flights from Paris had a very good load factor but the fares were not good enough to make profit on that route. Now, Etihad is flying to several French destinations beyond Paris and Seychelles can be marketed by flying tourists from there to Abu Dhabi and then on our national airline to Mahe. In the past these tourists all needed to go to Paris first, now they can fly from an airport much nearer to them. And while the French market has dropped, for initially this but also many other reasons, similar circumstances in Germany have helped to increase traffic to the Seychelles via flights by Etihad and now also with Air Berlin via Abu Dhabi. There are of course sentiments to bring back the nonstop flights to Paris but financially speaking, it would be the wrong move for the airline. Our partners in the tourism industry here in the Seychelles need to understand that. I think recent meetings between the airline and the trade have highlighted on such issues and created better understanding. We need to fly where we turn profits and compared to say 2 years ago, when under the former CEO Air Seychelles was destined for very difficult times when routes and cost were cut, now there is a future for our airline. So in balance, I think the tourism stakeholders will begin to understand that there can be wishes but those can only become reality if the financials add up’ said the source.

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