Seychelles one step closer to direct flights to Madagascar
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles national airline, Air Seychelles, is presently sourcing out an A320 aircraft that is expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2014 and once received it will allow the company to develop a new regional framework to include flights to the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, a spokesperson of Air Seychelles has told SNA.
Efforts to restore direct air links between the Seychelles and Madagascar were given a significant boost with the recent signing of a new bilateral air service agreement between the civil aviation authorities of the two Indian Ocean islands.
In a press statement, the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said the new agreement is expected to greatly enhance connectivity between the neighbouring countries and give a boost to the further development of cultural and trade exchanges.
A former air service agreement signed in 1979, which provided for Air Madagascar flights to Seychelles, soon proved ineffectual when the airline stopped operations only a few years later in 1981. Currently, anyone wishing to fly between the two countries must book two separate flights, commonly via Nairobi or Mauritius.
|SCAA's Gilbert Faure (Right) signing the Air Service agreement with Malagasy counterpart (SCAA) Photo License: Attribution
At the signing ceremony, which took place at SCAA offices last week, the SCAA’s Chief Executive, Gilbert Faure, who was accompanied at the event by his Malagasy counterpart, the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Madagascar, James Andrianalisoa, said the agreement provided part of a vital framework for inter-island travel in theIndian Ocean.
“The new framework negotiated encompasses all the requirements of commercial operations in today’s modern aviation era to include cooperative arrangement, aircraft leasing and enhanced capacity arrangements to benefit both countries,” said Faure.
The island nations of Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Comoros, Mayotte and Maldives joined together in 2010 to form a new travel destination brand, with the aim of jointly marketing the destinations known collectively as the Vanilla Islands.
Speaking at the event, the Seychelles’ Minister of Home Affairs and Transport, Joel Morgan, commented on the momentous strides taken by the aviation industry in Seychelles.
“Seychelles’ determination to take the lead in modernising air services agreements is in line with our country’s goal to create more visibility for the Seychelles and work with our neighbours to strengthen diplomatic relations and foster bilateral and regional growth,” said Morgan.
It is hoped that the re-establishment of air links with Madagascar will go some way towards cementing the resource-rich nation’s stability after recent political tensions threatened to bring the country to its knees. Seychelles President James Michel expressed his unwavering commitment to assisting Madagascar in any way possible during negotiations with Malagasy political leaders on the Seychelles Island of Desroches in 2012.
Well-known for its agricultural and textile industries, Madagascar may also offer excellent opportunities for Seychellois businesses once air links have been established. The marketing of Seychelles and Madagascar as a two-island destination, with opportunities to experience a range of biodiversity and idyllic destinations in both countries, is sure to be a big drawcard for tourists from all over the world.
The previous air service agreement between Seychelles and Madagascar signed in 1979, allowed for only two flights per week. Under the new agreement Air Seychelles can now opt to fly up to seven times a week to Madagascar.
“The new framework is welcomed by Air Seychelles as it provides more options and flexibility in developing its business strategy going forward, and the airline is looking forward to a more modernised air service in the region,” the spokesperson of Air Seychelles told SNA.
Currently Air Seychelles has two A330-200 aircrafts and Mauritius is the only Indian Ocean Island where the Seychelles national airline operates direct flights.