AIR MAURITIUS CHOPS SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE
Reactions came pouring in swift and harsh when news were announced that Air Mauritius had decided to chop two of their three Australian destinations, concentrating on Perth only, and leaving Sydney to Air Austral operating via La Reunion while the significant Melbourne market was abandoned altogether. The news came in the face of a 37 percent rise in passenger numbers in 2011 over 2010 which translated in over 4.000 extra passengers for Mauritius, and the mood amongst Australian Mauritius aficionados was understandably foul, as seen on a number of social networking sites.
Benefitting from the move by Air Mauritius, currently undergoing a massive cost cutting programme following a loss of over 28 million US Dollars for the first 9 months of the current financial year, is primarily Air Austral, which was swift to restore flights to Sydney which had already been announced for cuts too, before this opportunity arose to step into the gap left by Air Mauritius. Using this flight via La Reunion however will add an extra stop for travelers, many of whom may in fact then opt to stay in La Reunion instead of going on to Mauritius. The other beneficiaries will be the Gulf airlines offering one stop solutions from Australia via an albeit longer routing, namely Emirates. This however poses added problems for Mauritius in as far the marketing drive of the Gulf airlines goes, with in particular the Seychelles being seen as more media friendly, more media proactive, more airline friendly and unlike in Mauritius having a tourism board which actually works the market relentlessly instead of being silent, something for which MTPA has become almost notorious for.
In particular has the website www.visitmauritius.com.au where the opposition to Air Mauritius move has been most vocal and where fears are openly expressed that the move by the national airline will backfire on the entire tourism industry with competitors in the Indian Ocean region picking up the spoils. Watch this space as the airlines of the Indian Ocean islands are engaged in a battle for survival, which will be for the financially fittest or the one with the right choice of partner, as and when in the case of Air Mauritius the government comes to terms with the inevitable.