Air Seychelles adds 'Silhouette' to the island nation's register of aircraft
Silhouette is pictured at the Seychelles International Airport at Pointe Larue after its arrival from Abu Dhabi with an entire Seychellois crew. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles national airline now has two Seychelles registered aircraft in its international fleet. After Amirantes in June this year, Silhouette has become the airline’s second Airbus A320, previously registered in the United Arab Emirates with Etihad Airways, to be transferred to the Seychelles civil aircraft register.
The Airbus was officially welcomed as part the Air Seychelles fleet Tuesday morning, as it was greeted by the traditional water canon salute at the International airport at Pointe Larue, on the eastern cost of the Seychelles main island of Mahé.
Registered as S7-SIL, the aircraft which was leased from Etihad earlier this year, has been named after the Indian Ocean archipelago’s third largest island, Silhouette.
The move is expected to offer more commercial advantages to Air Seychelles including the opening up of air access to destinations, which require a Seychelles registered aircraft for charter and scheduled operations based on bilateral air services agreements the Indian Ocean archipelago has signed with other countries.
|Silhouette is greeted by the traditional water canon salute. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Silhouette is a single-aisle aircraft with 16 seats in business class and 120 seats in economy and it will be operating regional routes, namely to Abu Dhabi, Antananarivo, Dar es Salaam, Mauritius and Mumbai, which Air Seychelles has described as “strong and growing sources of inbound tourism.”
According to the national airline additional destinations on the regional network namely Antananarivo, Dar es Salaam and Mumbai at the end of last year has contributed to an increase in its load factor.
Figures indicate that some 227 880 passengers travelled on Air seychelles during the first six months of this year, which represents a 23.6 percent increase when compared to the same period last year when 184,106 passengers flew to Seychelles on the national airline.
“If we take a look at the Air Seychelles network now compared to 12 months ago, we’ve changed the shape of the network, we’ve changed the number of frequency, we’ve changed the days of the week and all of that has actually brought the network together, which means flights connect better together. So it increases the opportunity not only for Seychelles destination tourism which should be our number one priority…but it also allows us that back up measure of carrying guests on connecting flights through Seychelles,” Air Seychelles Chief Executive Roy Kinnear, told the local press in an interview on Tuesday.
|Air Seychelles' Chief Executive Roy Kinnear, Chairman Joel Morgan and the Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure cutting the ribbon in a symbolic gesture to welcome the aircraft. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Air Seychelles, which was established in 1977 and adopted its present name in September 1978, was until 2012 wholly owned by the Seychelles government.
UAE's Etihad Airways invested $45 million in Air Seychelles when it bought a 40 percent share in the airline in 2012 with the aim of turning the company around after several prior years of losses.
As part of its continued expansion growth, Joel Morgan, the Chairman of Air Seychelles, also the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport has announced that the airline is studying the possibility opening up new routes including one to serve the Comoros islands responding to the island’s government request to connect the Comoros to Paris.
“We are also planning to go to Beijing later this year if all goes well...and next year we will increase our frequency to Beijing and later look into the possibility of flying to Shanghai…this is part of our strategy to diversify our tourism economy by not only focussing on Europe but on Asia and Africa as well,” said Morgan.
Apart from its two Seychelles registered aircraft, Amirantes and Silhouette, Air Seychelles has two other aircraft that remain registered in the UAE with Etihad Airways.
They are two Airbus A330s acquired in 2012 and 2013, the "Aldabra" and "Vallee de Mai", named after Seychelles' two World heritage sites listed by UNESCO to operate flights to Paris, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and Johannesburg.
Morgan has also indicated that Air Seychelles plans to bring a third aircraft, one of its A330 onto the Seychelles register