Russian airline Aeroflot to return to Seychelles in boost to battered tourism industry
Aeroflot, which is Russia's flagship carrier, is returning with an Airbus 330 on Fridays. (Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles will welcome back Aeroflot once its borders re-open on March 25, linking the island nation to Russia's capital, Moscow, said the Seychelles Tourism Board on Wednesday.
The weekly flight from Moscow will first touch down on April 2 at the Seychelles International Airport at 9.55 am, and the return leg will depart at 11.05 pm.
The chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), Sherin Francis, said she was delighted with the airline's return to the Seychelles' shores.
"These flights will definitely offer more choices for the Russian travellers in terms of holiday destinations to visit as international travel gradually recover, but most importantly for us, it will help to re-instate reliable and direct connection between the two countries," she said.
Aeroflot, which is Russia's flagship carrier, is returning with an Airbus 330 (300 series) on Fridays. This route was previously served from 1993 to October 2003.
"It's high time and we can't wait to welcome back our Russian visitors, as Russia is one of our top markets and which grows steadily every year," added Francis.
Francis said that she expected the Russian tour operators to now offer some attractive packages to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to help stimulate travel back to the islands.
Aeroflot will no doubt face competition from the Middle Eastern carriers, notably Emirates and Qatar Airways who have both already resumed flights to Seychelles and are likely to increase their frequency.
Currently, Seychelles is opened to 43 countries, but as of March 25, both vaccinated and non-vaccinated tourists from all countries will be allowed entry. The only exception is South Africa for the time being.
Tourists will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no earlier than 72 hours before departure from the first point of travel. No quarantine will be imposed upon arrival. Regular measures like wearing a mark, sanitising and social distancing are expected to be followed at all times.
The reopening on March 25 is expected to relaunch the tourism industry of Seychelles, the top pillar of the island nation's economy which has been severely affected by a downturn in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aeroflot is amongst the longest serving airlines in the world and has been showing interest to return to Seychelles since last year, as demand for travelling to the Indian Ocean islands increases.
Several international airlines have either already resumed flights to Seychelles while others have planned start dates in the coming months.
Out of Europe, Edelweiss and Frankfurt-based Condor have confirmed their operations for April and October, respectively.
Air France is looking to re-start flights to Seychelles in June while Turkish Airline is eyeing a mid-April comeback.
Israel international carriers ARKIA and EL AL which flew a significant number of visitors to the archipelago late last year have both confirmed that they are coming back with more chartered flights between March-April.
From the region, Air Mauritius plans on flying back to Seychelles on a charter basis towards the end of June.
The country's national airline, Air Seychelles, has already started to promote seasonal flights to Dubai from March 26 to May 29 and is expected to resume scheduled flights to Mumbai on April 9.