(eTN) – Information just received from the Seychelles confirms the latest grapevine talk, that Air Seychelles has signed up to another codeshare agreement with Etihad, partner of the Seychellois national airline and a 40 percent shareholder in it, to offer seamless connections to the Irish capital city of Dublin.
In recent months, the partnership between Etihad and Air Seychelles has borne fruits through a number of codeshare agreements, both ways incidentally, as for instance the latest Air Seychelles destination Hong Kong allows Etihad to “backpack” on the HM services there, while, of course, the majority of codeshare destinations beyond Abu Dhabi are operated by Etihad with an HM flight number attached to it.
Cramer Ball, the CEO of Air Seychelles, in a media release just availed, commented on the signing of the codeshare agreement as follows: “We are delighted to expand our codeshare operations to include Ireland, a market that we are keen to explore further. Seychelles has a strong affinity and traditional links with the UK and Ireland, and this expansion enhances our commitment to Seychelles’ traditional tourist markets and provides an expanded choice of convenient, seamless travel options for visitors. The new codeshare to Ireland has been achieved through the development of a successful partnership between the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority and government of Ireland. In addition to our organic growth, airline partnerships form a major pillar of Air Seychelles’ expansion plans, and we will continue to introduce new codeshare partnerships in the coming months.”
Air Seychelles presently flies 7 times a week to Abu Dhabi, which has become the airlines’ second hub, but the total number of flights HM offers together with Etihad are 10 return flights per week between the archipelago and the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The aligned schedules already offer Air Seychelles passengers extensive onward connectivity to destinations through Etihad services across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia. In addition to the codeshare with Etihad Airways, Air Seychelles also has a codeshare agreement with AirBerlin to Berlin and Dusseldorf and has also signed a codeshare agreement with KLM to add Amsterdam to the growing number of destinations.
Said a regular, but unofficial source from Victoria: “The management of Air Seychelles has in recent weeks intensely listened and interacted with the tourism sector on the islands. There have been misunderstandings in the past and dialogue was seen as the best way forward. The hoteliers and others were able to express their wishes and expectations, about domestic services between Mahe and Praslin but also overseas destinations. It is clear they would prefer nonstop flights to Paris for instance. The exchange of views allowed them to understand that for Air Seychelles to financially consolidate, certain aspects have to be put first, before the wish list.
“Paris had very good loads but failed to turn in a yield which had generated profit. Now, the reach of Air Seychelles goes way beyond just Paris but covers, through the codeshare agreements, more destinations in France and the rest of Europe than we reached ever before with our own flights. For the foreseeable future, our main operational stopover point is Abu Dhabi. That benefits our partners Etihad but more important, it benefits Air Seychelles. We could not have come from a loss to post a 10 million dollar profit within a year were it not for such operational streamlining.
“Plans are to serve South Africa and Mauritius better which are two important regional markets for us and otherwise carry our long-haul traffic to and from Abu Dhabi, where our partners will take over, except for Hong Kong which we will continue to serve and hope to grow from 3 to more flights a week as demand rises.”
Other sources from the islands expressed their delight over the choice of Dublin, as the Seychelles Tourism Academy has a close partnership with Shannon College where Seychellois students complete their Bachelor Degree Program. One source let it be known when discussing the new aviation development that European arrival figures for the Seychelles for the first 3 months of 2013 were significantly up by over 14 percent, while the UK and Ireland figures are up by over 22 percent, attributed mainly to improved air access via the codeshared Etihad flights from London and Manchester and now Dublin.
“We had some reservations in the past, and you helped us to highlight some key issues. The industry is happy to see how Air Seychelles has responded to such constructive critique. We are now meeting regularly; STB [Seychelles Tourism Board] has signed an MOU with the airline which benefits the industry, and I think we are now finally all on the same page. We need to be working hand in hand among all players, public and private, resorts, DMCs, the ferries, and our national airline, and the success in increasing traffic to our islands is a sign that the strategy works,” added a senior private sector stakeholder with the request to remain unnamed.