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Air Seychelles lives and breathes Creole spirit, chief executive says

Victoria, Seychelles | May 2, 2016, Monday @ 11:59 in Editorial » THE INTERVIEW | By: Genevieve Morel and Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3407
Air Seychelles lives and breathes Creole spirit, chief executive says

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Roy Kinnear, Seychelles' national airline, Air Seychelles, won the World Travel Awards award for ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline 2015’ for the second consecutive year.(Air Seychelles)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles' national airline, Air Seychelles, won the World Travel Awards award for ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline 2015’ for the second consecutive year.

Under the leadership of Chief Executive Roy Kinnear, Air Seychelles also won the Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline awards in business class, economy class and cabin crew.

SNA met with Kinnear to learn more about the challenge of leading the island nation’s airline since he took over in July 2015.

SNA: Air Seychelles won four World Travel Awards. What do you believe were the contributing factors?

RK: Like everything in life I do not think there is one precise and exact solo reason. We talk about flying the Creole spirit. In my mind that is very clearly not fiction, that is real. We’ve got an aircraft that is absolutely beautiful, our uniforms are bright, uplifting, our cabin crew are so proud.

When you put all of that together, you step onboard that aircraft, you’re going to a paradise destination, and you’re going on a beautiful aircraft with happy people who enjoy their job that truly is a Creole spirit out there. So in my mind that’s the first thing. It is not a slogan; we live it and breathe that.

SNA: What have been your personal contributions towards winning this award?

RK: My own particular style of management is about structure and advance planning and bringing organization to a business. I think it’s fair to say as an airline we have got a much more structured network now.

Since I came on board in July, we have grown our domestic flying by over 20 percent. We’ve got some very, very powerful relationships with other airlines, and we are clever enough to use those to sell Seychelles in their home markets. So if you actually look at Air Seychelles now, you can actually feel the structure around it, you can feel the organization. There is an order to what we do.

SNA: Winning the awards now put pressure on other airlines in the region to step up their game. What is Air Seychelles doing to ensure that they keep up the standards?

RK: In my mind, in a service industry, there is never a finishing line. So whatever competing airlines want to do, they are welcome to do that and good airlines will always look to improve. For me Air Seychelles is always going to seek to improve. It’s not about maintaining what we’ve got today, but always improving on it.

So I’m not going to worry about what competitors do out there, I’m going to focus on Air Seychelles, whether it’s improving our product, our people, the surroundings and the environment we work in. For me the next major step forward is the focus on customer service. And that’s what will make us even more different.

SNA: You only joined Air Seychelles in July 2015, how has it been so far?

RK: I do think it was a wise move at the start to take time to understand the environment, to understand the people, to understand the tools and what I have to work with in Air Seychelles. You understand what your building blocks already are.

I love the job. You can feel it in me. I think it has been challenges that I’ve had to probably be patient and understand that not everybody runs at Roy Kinnear’s speed, but that’s part of us all working together to do it. There is always going to be challenges out there.

SNA: What would you say you have brought onboard at the helm of the airline as CEO?

RK: I think the chairman was very, very clear that when I was brought on board, I was brought on board to achieve something specific and you need different people with different styles and different focuses to do that.

I know exactly where I want to take this airline. I am passionate about this airline and I put all my energy into it and my staff feels this energy and the enthusiasm.

A successful CEO is not necessarily an amazing individual, it’s about how the company grows, how I sit as the general on the white horse and steer and direct and create a vision, remove roadblocks and give everybody what they need to deliver and then we all enjoy the success. And having done that, how do we become even more successful.

.( Air Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY

SNA: What are your plans for the airline?

RK: I need to ensure that our rate of growth does not put financial pressure on our stake holders. I need to make sure that the organisation can keep pace with that growth and how we plan for it. I hold no secret at all -- I want more aircrafts. But I need to work hard. To invest in aircrafts and in an airline is a very, very expensive business to run, so I’ve got to make sure it’s profitable.

SNA: In recent years a number of new routes have been and some discontinued like Tanzania. Are the new routes adding value in terms of profit?

RK: I will start of by saying that it’s never an easy decision and there is no pride and pleasure taken in discontinuing a route. It’s done purely for sound commercial business reasons.

When I arrived here and looked at the performance and the numbers, it was struggling. We have thrown efforts at it, we’ve tried to stimulate the market, the fact remained there was not a significant volume of guests travelling between Dar Es Salaam and Seychelles.

With regards to other routes, profitability wise we are moving leaps and bounds ahead. ...

If I look at our network now compared to twelve months ago, in terms of occupancy is at least double digits, at least twelve percent ahead of where it was and that tells me inherently that the network is working. It is piecing together better, it is giving guests more chance to fly in and out of Seychelles, it’s creating more connecting travel options across Seychelles as a connecting hot point.

SNA: Any plans on introducing new destinations in the near future?

RK: For the next major step in our growth, no, the existing capacity of aircraft will not allow us to grow significantly. We have added a lot of flying in the last nine months on the existing aircrafts, we have no more space on the A3 30, and the only space on our A3 20 is only on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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