Air Seychelles' newest plane arrives amid air travel slowdown, but with eyes on future
The new Airbus plane has been named 'Pti Merl Dezil' -- the Creole name for the Seychelles warbler. (Air Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Air Seychelles' new A320neo aircraft landed at the Seychelles international airport of Pointe Larue on Thursday.
According to the airline, the new Airbus plane has been named 'Pti Merl Dezil' -- the Creole name for the Seychelles warbler, a threatened bird found only in the island nation in the western Indian Ocean.
The aircraft was commanded by two of the airline's pilots from Hamburg, Germany to Seychelles via Abu Dhabi, where a brief stop for refuelling was made.
The arrival process in the Seychelles was carried out according to the strict guidelines put in place as preventive measures for the COVID-19 pandemic by the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) and the health authorities, the airline said.
In adherence to the guidelines of the local Department of Health, the team has proceeded on 14 days quarantine upon arrival.
Jude Gedeon, the Public Health Commissioner, said that "all necessary precautions were taken by the staff to prevent infection while in Hamburg. The location where the staff will be accommodated in Seychelles has been verified by the Department of Health and is suitable for quarantined."
Remco Althuis, the chief executive of Air Seychelles, said, "COVID-19 was non-existent when S7-PTI was ordered 18 months ago and we do understand that right now it is a critical time for all airlines globally, including for Air Seychelles."
He said that having a new generation of fuel-efficient aircraft is very important in order to safeguard the economic operations once the business resumes back to normal.
"It is for that reason that it was important, that we took delivery of the new A320neo aircraft and Pti Merl Dezil will be part of Air Seychelles' fleet of two A320neos," he added.
Members on the flight included six staff from the Air Seychelles technical operations department, as well as two staff members from the SCAA. The team were in Hamburg to conduct the final inspection and acceptance of the aircraft.
Althuis said that while the demand for air travel and tourism to the Seychelles has significantly decreased due to COVID-19 "the aircraft will be put to work to maintain strategic air links to the Seychelles, ensuring that critical supplies can still come in and it will also be available for repatriation flights should those be required."
Meanwhile, the airline is revising its flight schedule, to Prtaslin effective Saturday, 21 March, due to reduced demand following the outbreak of the COVID-19. Air Seychelles will now operate six round trips between Mahe and Praslin on weekdays including seven round trips over the weekend starting from 6.25 am until 7.10 pm.
Air Seychelles said that "following guidance from the local Department of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19, travellers are also advised to avoid going to the airline's sales offices for bookings of tickets."
Travellers are requested to book their trip via airseychelles.com or at the reservations and ticketing desks located at the Domestic Terminal in both Mahe and Praslin and that only card payment is accepted at these facilities.