Seychelles and COVID-19: Last international flight temporarily suspended as Air Seychelles closes South Africa route
Air Seychelles which operated its last flight on Wednesday from Johannesburg aims to resume services on April 18. (Air Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Air Seychelles has suspended all flights across its regional network until mid-April due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, the airline said on Thursday.
The decision by the island nation's airline means that as of this weekend no regularly scheduled commercial airline will fly any international flights into or out of Seychelles for the next several weeks due to COVID-19, effectively isolating the archipelago from international travel.
Air Seychelles operated its last flight on Wednesday from Johannesburg to the Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. It aims to resume services on April 18.
Air Seychelles' decision follows intensified travel advisories, national lockdowns and closures at ports of entry within the Indian Ocean, South Africa, and India, as well as in the Seychelles, in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Travellers across the airline's network are advised to alter their dates of travel without incurring a change fee. For those unsure of their exact travelling dates, Air Seychelles is recommending travellers to proceed with cancelling their reservation now and rebooking without a fee for travel at a later time.
Remco Althuis, the chief executive said, "For the first time in Air Seychelles' 41 years history, we are suspending international flying due to the extraordinary events surrounding COVID-19."
Althuis said that the airline's priority now "is to ensure the safety of our employees and fellow citizens, while also focusing our energy on maintaining vital cargo supply chains to the country. We hope to resume normal commercial operations as soon as the situation improves."
In addition, Air Seychelles has also revised its domestic schedule to offer only two rotations between Mahe and Praslin, the two most populated islands, daily effective Thursday, March 26.
In the updated travel advisory from the Seychelles' Department of Health on Wednesday, with immediate effect until further notice, any passenger arriving from any country (except returning Seychellois citizens) will not be allowed to enter Seychelles.
In the event that a person who has been to any country (except returning Seychellois citizens) arrives in Seychelles, the person will not be allowed entry and the carrier airline or vessel will be responsible for the immediate return of the passenger.
All Seychellois citizens returning from any country will be subjected to additional health screening and placed under obligatory quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival.
Airlines with inbound flights for Seychelles, are directed not to board any passengers or crew (except returning Seychellois citizens) from any country.
The same applies to any person arriving in Seychelles (except returning Seychellois citizens) will not be allowed to disembark.
Foreign nationals who require to enter Seychelles for any special mission has to obtain written permissions from the Public Health Commissioner prior to leaving the country of origin.
Seychelles has seven patients who tested positive cases o COVID-19 – three Seychellois and four foreigners and are all in the isolation treatment centre as the Family Hospital at Perseverance.