Air Seychelles offers in-flight connectivity as its first Airbus A330 'Aldabra' moves to the Seychelles register
Aldabra, Air Seychelles third Airbus and first A330 aircraft to join the Seychelles civil aircraft register. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Air Seychelles' Airbus 'Aldabra', has become the third aircraft and first Airbus A330 of the national airline to be registered on the Seychelles civil aircraft register, over the last five months.
Named after one of the world's largest raised coral atolls also one of Seychelles UNESCO world heritage sites, 'Aldabra', is the first Seychelles-registered aircraft to offer guests in-flight connectivity.
Aldabra, which has been registered as S7-ADB was officially welcomed this morning, as it was greeted by the traditional water canon salute at the International airport at Pointe Larue, on the eastern coast of the Seychelles main island of Mahé this morning.
It is the first Airbus A330 aircraft, previously registered in the United Arab Emirates with Etihad Airways to be transferred to the Seychelles civil aircraft register, following the transfer of two of Air Seychelles’ Airbus A320 aircraft, Amirantes in June and Silhouette in September this year.
|Aldabra receiving the official welcome as a Seychelles registered aircraft as it is greeted by the traditional water canon salute. (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.
Aldabra was the first Airbus to join Air Seychelles' international fleet in 2012, following the strategic partnership between the two airlines.
Speaking to the local press at the airport this morning, Air Seychelles Chief Executive, Roy Kinnear, described the new service of in-flight connectivity available on the aircraft as another way of demonstrating that Air Seychelles is focused on improving the guest experience.
This is expected to allow guests to have internet connection for their smartphones and tablets internet through the Wi- Fi or mobile data, enabling them to call friends and family as well as receive and send texts messages.
“What this means in this day and age of technology, is a wider range of leisure technology activities onboard our aircraft...and for many of us who travel for work purposes it means we can shoot off emails to our colleague,” said Kinnear.
With a configuration of 18 Business Class and 236 Economy Class seats, Aldabra operates long-haul flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle, regional flights to Johannesburg and selected flights to regional destinations of Abu Dhabi and Mauritius..
|Ribbon cutting ceremony: (from second left) Didier Dogley, Ministry for Environment; Air Seychelles CEO Roy Kinnear; Joel Morgan, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Transport; and Alain St Ange, Ministry for Tourism and Culture. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
One of the benefits of having its aircraft registered locally is that this offers 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.
“This development lays a strong foundation for more growth, as Air Seychelles can now operate Aldabra, our biggest aircraft in terms of passenger and cargo capacity, to more destinations and explore the possibility of opening new routes to markets which were previously not accessible," said Kinnear.
The airline has indicated that it is intensifying plans to fly to China, one destination that is considered an emerging market for the island nation’s tourism industry; the main pillar of the economy.
According to the Seychelles Minister responsible for Transport, Joel Morgan, also Chairman of Air Seychelles, the island nation has already secured connectivity with four major cities in China including Beijing and Shanghai.
“Our plans for China are on track…we are working very hard.to make sure that our business model is one that is robust, and solid for the development of the Chinese market…,” said the Seychelles Minister responsible for Transport, Joel Morgan, also Chairman of Air Seychelles.
“I predict that the Chinese market will continue to grow significantly…we are already seeing near exponential growth of this market and I believe it is an important future market in the balance of things with the European market for Seychelles.”
According to latest figures available on the National Bureau of Statistics website, NBS, a total of 216,774 visitors have disembarked in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands with a population of around 93,000 from January to October 18, 2015.
This represents a 19 percent increase in visitor arrivals compared to the same period in 2014.
France remains the main market with a total of 28,946 visitors so far followed closely by Germany with 28,477 visitors.
Although China is in the sixth position, with 12,657 Chinese visitors coming to the Seychelles shores to date, representing a 7 percent increase compared to last year’s figures, Morgan has highlighted the desire to see Seychelles attracting more than double the current number of Chinese visitors to the island nation.
According to Morgan, the challenge remains to engage with other stakeholders in the tourism industry including the Seychelles Tourism Board, hotels and tour operators to provide packages geared specifically towards the Chinese market.
|New destinations are on the cards as Air Seychelles transfers more aircraft to the island nation's civil register of aircraft. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
With Amirantes, Silhouette and now Aldabra transferred to the Seychelles civil aircraft register, only one Airbus A330 aircraft painted in Air Seychelles colours is still registered in the United Arab Emirates with Etihad Airways.