Air Seychelles makes first direct flight from Beijing
Passengers disembarking from the first Seychelles direct flight from Beijing, China ( Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The first Air Seychelles flight direct from China to the island nation landed at the Seychelles’ international airport Wednesday with 208 people aboard, heralding a new, more direct route between the two countries.
Air Seychelles FlightHM887 took off from Seychelles on Tuesday for Beijing, China’s capital city, with a Seychellois delegation led by the airline’s chief executive officer, Roy Kinnear.
“This is a building block for Seychelles going forward. It will add another diversification which all good business does,” says Roy Kinnear.
The passengers on the flight experienced a mix of the two cultures that left them over the moon, said Kinnear.
“The experience on board absolutely took my breath away. That was a genuine emotion for me. It was the combination of well-planned series of Chinese menus and Chinese mandarin subtitles on the movies and range of games. Walking along on board the flight the guest way absolutely over the moon,” Kinnear said.
The weekly direct flight to the Chinese capital of over 20 million inhabitants is a bonus for Seychelles as the country wishes to see relations grow with the expanding Chinese tourism market. Last year, a record 13,957 visitors from China visited the archipelago.
Joel Morgan, chairman of Air Seychelles with the Chinese representative together with other officials who welcomed the flight. ( Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Seychelles and China began bilateral relations in June 1976 but the country only started emerging as a travel destination in recent years. The previous Air Seychelles flight to China would transit via Abu Dhabi.
“We believe we can grow this market significantly in 2016. We are looking towards more frequencies towards midyear, if all goes well,” said Joel Morgan, the chairman of Air Seychelles as well as the minister for foreign affairs and transport.
A trip through the Seychelles’ islands would reveal a significant presence of Chinese shops and business. Morgan also believes that the direct flight is an opportunity for more goods to be traded from China.
“With the (Airbus) A330 on this flight, we can have significant amount of cargo and it represents again the possibility of bringing in produce and manufactured goods by air from China,” explained Morgan.
A delegation from China’s Ministry of Culture was on board the first direct flight.
Air Seychelles said it also intends to add to its fleet another A330 aircraft that will complement its vision to explore new markets in the Far East and Europe.