Beijing-Mahé non-stop! Direct air link for Chinese visitors as Air Seychelles launches once-a-week charter flight in January 2016
An Air Seychelles Airbus A330 aircraft. The national airline will soon be starting non-stop weekly scheduled charter flights between Mahé and Beijing. (Air Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles national airline will be starting a weekly scheduled charter flight service between the Chinese city of Beijing and the island nation’s main island of Mahé as of late January 2016.
Announcing the news in a press statement issued this morning, the Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Transport has said that the launch of this non-stop service, is in accordance with the bilateral Air Services Agreement signed between Seychelles and China.
“Subject to government and regulatory approval, it will be the first direct air link between the two countries, which share strong diplomatic, economic and cultural ties,” reads the press statement.
China is considered to be one of the main emerging markets for the Indian Ocean archipelago which relies heavily on tourism as the main pillar of the economy.
Seychelles and China established diplomatic ties in 1976.
Currently the Asian nation is the 6th leading tourism market for Seychelles with 13,244 Chinese visitors having disembarked in the island nation from January to November 22, 2015.
The figure according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS represents a 5 percent increase in the number of Chinese tourists when compared to the same period last year.
With the increased awareness about the Indian Ocean archipelago, Seychelles was also voted among a group of island destinations preferred by Chinese visitors in October.
Currently, Chinese visitors are reaching Seychelles by catching flights from various transit points and although there have been chartered flights from China like in February this year, when hundreds of Chinese visitors came to spend the Spring Festival in Seychelles, they had to transit through Abu Dhabi.
The Chairman of Air Seychelles, also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan has described the start of the once per week scheduled charter flight between Seychelles and China as fitting with the two countries getting ready to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations.
“I am confident our friendship will continue to strengthen with this important new air bridge….China has, in a very short time span, grown to become the sixth-largest source of inbound tourism in Seychelles, with over 13,000 visitors recorded this year. Our Beijing service will build on this position, bringing even larger numbers of travelers to our islands and making a significant contribution to local businesses and the economy of Seychelles,” said Morgan.
The route will be serviced by one of Air Seychelles’ Airbus A330-200 aircraft, offering Chinese visitors 18 business class and 236 economy class seats per flight.
In an emailed response to SNA, an Air Seychelles spokesperson said the anticipated date for the start of the weekly service is Tuesday January 26, 2016, of course this is subject to government and regulatory approvals.
"This is a scheduled charter service which will be purchased by Tour Operators in China and sold to Chinese tourists visiting Seychelles, which will result in growth of inbound tourism in Seychelles and an incremental number of over 13,000 Chinese tourists," reads the statement.
A Chinese sales agency Ankeyunda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Air Seychelles to be the one responsible for the sale of the airline tickets in China.
“Beijing services will lay the foundation for us to potentially add more weekly frequencies from Beijing or even consider other key cities in China, but for that to happen the operation has to be sustainable. There is enormous travel demand to Seychelles from China that we can tap into if all stakeholders come together and work as a team,” says Morgan.
Welcoming the first Airbus A330 of the national airline, to be transferred to the Seychelles civil aircraft register last month the Air Seychelles chairman announced that connectivity had already been secured with four major cities in China including Beijing and Shanghai.