Only two weeks to go - Air Seychelles all set to launch non-stop Paris flights
Seychelles’ Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs and board member of Air Seychelles, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne (left), Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, Manoj Papa (centre) and Seychelles Tourism Board’s Director for Europe, Bernadette Willemin, pictured at an Air Seychelles press conference in Paris yesterday. (Air Seychelles)
The national airline of the 115-island archipelago of Seychelles has put all the final pieces in place in the buildup to the launch of thrice-weekly non-stop flights from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Seychelles International Airport, due to commence on July 1.
In a press statement from Air Seychelles issued on Tuesday afternoon, the airline announced the appointment of AVIAREPS Group as a General Sales Agent (GSA) to drive ticket sales and customer support in France.
The sales agent was founded in 1994 in Germany and operates in 38 countries worldwide, and the team representing Air Seychelles in France will be headed by Gilles Gosselin, AVIAREPS’ General Manager in France. Gosselin himself is familiar with Air Seychelles, having worked at the airline in a senior position before joining AVIAREPS in 2012.
Air Seychelles has also announced the establishment of a dedicated call centre based in the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to ensure support for the airline's customers.
"By basing the call centre in nearby Mauritius, Air Seychelles can provide the best possible and most cost effective support service for customers in regional and international markets," an Air Seychelles spokesperson informed SNA in an emailed comment.
"Customer service is a key enabler to the growth strategy of the airline."
The call centre staff, which will be fluent both in English and French, will provide sales and reservation support to French customers on Mondays to Saturdays from 6am to 6pm, charged at local call rates.
|The team that will be driving ticket sales for Air Seychelles in France - Air Seychelles has brought General Sales Agent AVIAREPS on board (Air Seychelles) Photo license: CC-BY|
The Seychelles Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport, Joël Morgan, who is also the Chairperson of Air Seychelles, described Air Seychelles’ return to Paris with non-stop flights was a “clear signal” of Air Seychelles’ strengthened position, buoyed by the support of the airline’s shareholders as well as the travel industry at large.
“The non-stop flights also reflect the importance of the French and European markets, the potential they offer, and the deep and trusted relationship between France and Seychelles.
The Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, Manoj Papa, said the thrice-weekly route would be served by a modern Airbus A330-200 with a 750-seat capacity per week, flying directly from Europe to Seychelles in just 10 hours.
“This is a powerful travelling proposition in itself, but it is only part of our enhanced, total customer service offer. Our guests will be fully supported on the ground, as well as in the air, by a professional support team,” he said.
Finding a sustainable sales model for the Paris flights is of utmost importance to Air Seychelles, as the airline will be keen to avoid the challenges it faced several years ago, after halting its non-stop Paris flights in 2011, citing major losses on the twice-weekly route.
The UAE's Etihad Airways invested $45 million in Air Seychelles – which was previously wholly-owned by the Seychelles government since its establishment in 1977 – when it bought a 40 percent equity share in the airline in 2012 with the aim of turning the company around after several years of significant losses.
Air Seychelles re-launched services to Paris at the beginning of July 2014, but this time with a stopover in Abu Dhabi.
However, the lack of non-stop flights was cited by both tourism operators and tourists as a major inconvenience for people travelling between Paris and the Seychelles.
French tourists currently make up around 15 percent of the approximately quarter of a million tourists visiting the Seychelles archipelago of 90,000 people each year, making France the lead tourism market for the island nation.
According to the latest visitor arrivals from the Seychelles’ National Bureau of Statistics, 17,931 French tourists have visited the islands thus far in 2015, which is a ten percent increase compared with the same period last year.
Etihad has pledged to continue to work with Air Seychelles to further develop the French tourism market for the island nation.
“Under an MoU we announced on 12 April, we are negotiating a codeshare agreement with Air France for points in France and Europe that will provide travellers with more connection opportunities and leverage the full value of Charles de Gaulle as a convenient air transport hub for Europe,” said Papa.