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More regional links for Air Seychelles as direct flights to Madagascar launch in December

Victoria, Seychelles | September 11, 2014, Thursday @ 14:21 in Business » TOURISM | By: Hajira Amla | Views: 5393
More regional links for Air Seychelles as direct flights to Madagascar launch in December

Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) feeding on tamarind leaves, Tsimanampetsotsa, Madagascar, January 14, 2010. (Frank Vassen/Flickr) Madagascar is renowned for its extraordinary botanical and zoological attractions. Photo License:(CC BY 2.0)

(Seychelles News Agency) - The national airline of the Seychelles, Air Seychelles, has announced that twice-weekly direct flights between Seychelles and neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Madagascar will commence on 3 December after a hiatus of 33 years. The move, which is still subject to government approval, is expected to enhance connectivity in the region and boost cultural and trade ties between the two countries.

After the signing of a new bilateral air service agreement between the civil aviation authorities of the two Indian Ocean islands in May, Air Seychelles sourced an Airbus A320 aircraft that would be able to service the route.

The aircraft, which offers 16 business class and 120 economy class seats, will fly on Wednesdays and Saturdays to the Madagascan capital of Antananarivo. After the carrier announced on Monday the start of direct flights to the Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam, Air Seychelles will fly to four destinations – Johannesburg, Mauritius, Tanzania and Madagascar – in the region by the end of the year.

The aircraft will also offer seven tonnes of cargo space and expects freight between the two countries to include perishables, mechanical spare parts and pharmaceuticals.

Air Seychelles’ Chief Executive Officer, Manoj Papa, said the airline was “thrilled” to add Antananarivo to its extensive global network, to meet a growing demand for business and leisure travel to and from Madagascar.

Madagascar is enjoying strong economic growth from renewed foreign investment and surging eco-tourism,” he said.

“The route will boost trade and tourism in both directions, and in particular, be welcomed by the large number of Malagasy nationals living in the Seychelles, who now have an easier way of visiting friends and family at home.....Via our Mahé hub, we will offer guests coming from Madagascar great onward connections to many of the islands in the Seychelles, in addition to destinations served by our fleet in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, as well as with our codeshare partners.”

The Chairman of the Air Seychelles Board, also the archipelago's Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Joël Morgan, said the new route was an important milestone in the carrier’s Indian Ocean expansion strategy.

“The direct links to Antananarivo will create new opportunities for government, trade, tourism and cultural exchanges within the Indian Ocean, and through our global network, connect the region to the world,” he said.

“We also offer significant new schedule options for travellers, providing more choice and flexibility within the region, and making Madagascar’s splendid treasury of culture, fauna, and flora more accessible than ever to holidaymakers, whether as a standalone destination or in combination with visits to other islands of the region, such as Comores, Mayotte, Mauritius, or Réunion.”

Established in 1978, Air Seychelles, which has been partly owned by Etihad Airways since 2012, offers direct international flights to Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Mauritius and Paris. The airline recently announced a codeshare partnership with Hong Kong Airlines, providing easier connectivity between its Hong route and other destinations in Asia, as well as another agreement with Alitalia in Italy.

The airline was last week awarded as the leading airline by the World Travel Awards in the Indian Ocean for its excellent cabin crew and business class service.

One of Air Seychelles A330-200 aircraft (Patrick Valmont, Air Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY

Strong historical links

The history of the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands, situated 1,500 km off the coast of East Africa, is strongly tied to the history and culture of the people of Madagascar, with a large proportion of Seychellois Creoles being made up of East African and Malagasy origin, and the roots of Creole dance, song and cultural beliefs are connected to both regions.

Madagascar is home to some 22 million people of a number of ethnic groups, including Austronesian people from the Indonesian island of Borneo who arrived on Madagascan shores in outrigger canoes between 350 BC and AD 550, and African Bantu people who crossed the Mozambique channel to settle on the island a thousand years ago.

In 1897, Madagascar became part of the French colonial empire, resulting in the majority of the population speaking French. The island eventually won its independence in 1960.

Bursting with natural wonders

Up to 90 percent of Madagascar’s wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on earth, which is why scientists call the island a biodiversity hotspot. The fourth-largest in the world, it is one of the world’s richest biological settings, boasting lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, beaches, desert, a multitude of smaller islands off the main coastline and pristine marine reefs.

Madagascar boasts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites —the rainforests of the Atsinanana, the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, and the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, the spiritual centre of the Merina people.

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Tags: Madagascar, Air Seychelles, Manoj Papa, Joel Morgan

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