MAURITIUS TO LOOSEN STRINGS FOR NEW FLIGHTS
Clearly stung by the success of the Seychelles, where conscientious policy decisions have in recent years led to global success in making the holiday destination ‘visible’ through reorganizing its tourist board, rebranding the entire destination into ‘Brand Seychelles’ and working hand in hand with global airline giants, has Mauritius finally shown signs of waking up to the new market realities. Their previous ‘big brother status’ amongst the Indian Ocean islands, aka Vanilla Islands, has in the recent past come under siege and the fall out of the global financial and economic crisis of 2007/8 seems to have been lingering longer on Mauritius than would have ordinarily been expected.
Seemingly driven to a large degree by the country’s hospitality industry, which is grappling with continued less than expected occupancy levels, has the government in Port Louis finally agreed to look into their hitherto restrictive aviation policies with the aim of permitting more flights during periods when demand reaches peak levels so that seats on aircraft finally start to match the grown bed capacity from new resorts which have sprung up across the island’s beaches.
However, airlines will consider this only as a starting point, aiming at year round greater access to the island and as it suits them even fifth freedom rights to fly via Mauritius on to key destinations on the African continent. The government in Mauritius, a majority shareholder in Air Mauritius, has always been fiercely protective of ‘their own’, but as the airline is only now starting to re-enter the profit zone after major losses in past financial years, aviation strategists are keenly watching how ‘the owners’, i.e. government will react to the emerging demands by the hospitality private sector for greater access by other airlines vis a vis their otherwise ‘protective mode’ towards their national airline.
Watch this space.