Air Seychelles' first flight from Almaty lands – Greater efforts to attract Kazakhstani tourists
flight HM75 was greeted by the traditional water cannon salute as it landed at the Seychelles International Airport. (Air Seychelles)
Seychelles is now in a better position to grow its Kazakhstani market segment as Air Seychelles operated its first flight in its seasonal service between the island archipelago and the central Asian country on Tuesday.
Greeted by the traditional water cannon salute, flight HM75 landed at the Seychelles International Airport at around 8:30 a.m. with 137 passengers onboard. Operated by the Air Seychelles' A320 NEO aircraft, the flight lasted around 10 hours with a 1-hour technical stop in Abu Dhabi.
The transport minister, Antony Derjacques, said, "We are thrilled to see Air Seychelles land its first flight from Kazakhstan, expanding its global reach and connecting Seychelles to the vibrant city of Almaty."
Derjacques said that Air Seychelles' ambition is to be profitable and sustainable and to foster tourism growth and flying to Almaty ticks all these boxes.
"There is currently a war and recession in Europe and, as such, Seychelles needs to find an alternative market for tourism. We have chosen Kazakhstan, which is in central Asia. It borders other countries such as Uzbekistan and Russia. A lot of Russians and other nationals can now travel through this new Air Seychelles flight to Seychelles," he explained.
The minister said that despite the great demand coming from this new market, the inaugural flight, which had a capacity of a little above 160 seats, was not full, and this is linked to the availability of rooms in big hotels.
|Operated by the Air Seychelles' A320 NEO aircraft, the flight carried 137 passengers onboard. (Air Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY|
"Flights are quite filled for January to mid-February, though they are not full. Our problem is that hotels are unable to take more bookings. At the moment Kazakhstanis go to big hotels as they are used to brand names but do not know our guesthouses. We, as Seychellois, now need to sell our small hotels and guesthouses and penetrate into this new market," he continued.
Kazakhstan has been a slow-growing market for Seychelles for many years. During the pre-pandemic year of 2019, about 500 visitors disembarked in the island nation from this central Asian country.
The director general for destination planning and development, Paul Lebon, said that the Kazakhstani market is one that the tourism department thinks is quite lucrative.
"The high-end segment will always have value for Seychelles. One of our core focuses at the tourism department is to look at how we can bring higher value, lower impact tourism to Seychelles. We are talking about sustainability which is really important for us. We think that this market, together with others around it in central Asia, will be really important for us," added Lebon.
To continue promoting spending by tourists in the communities and the country in general, the tourism department is looking to diversify its products, especially in the cultural and heritage sector. More cultural activities are planned for 2023.
This seasonal service will run until March 27, 2023, with twice-weekly flights.
Air Seychelles currently operates flights to Johannesburg, Mumbai, Mauritius and Maldives with its state-of-the-art Airbus A320NEOs.
Recently, the Seychelles flagship carrier retained the most coveted title of Indian Ocean's Leading Airline at the 29th edition of the World Travel Awards as well as the Indian Ocean's Leading Airline Business Class, Indian Ocean's Leading Cabin Crew, and Indian Ocean's Leading Airline Lounge.