Qatar Airways returns to Seychelles with daily flights
The inaugural Qatar Airways flight was welcomed with the traditional water canon salute upon landing at the Seychelles international airport on Monday. (Qatar Airways/Flickr)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Qatar Airways on Monday resumed daily flights to Seychelles three years after it stopped flying to the island nation.
Qatar is only the latest airline to expand its service to Seychelles, which is enjoying an upswing of tourist arrivals, having surpassed last year's visitor arrival numbers. Aside from Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and SriLankan Airlines started flying to the island nation earlier this year and Ethiopian Airlines will also be expanding its schedule to five weekly flights later this week. Austrian Airlines also announced in October that it would begin new once-weekly service to Seychelles in 2017.
The inaugural flight of the Doha-based carrier touched down at the Seychelles’ international airport, at Pointe Larue at Pointe Larue on the eastern coast of the main island, Mahe, at around 8:30 am.
|The Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Alain St Ange said the island nation relies a lot on air connectivity to develop its tourism market and economy and that this would be further consolidated with the arrival of Qatar Airways. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Speaking at the airport, the airline’s chief commercial officer Dr. Hugh Dunleavy said the airline was thrilled to be back in the island nation.
“It’s a milestone for Qatar Airways to be back in the Seychelles, where we have strong affinity with the people and the authorities,” said Dunleavy, who was leading a delegation from Doha.
He thanked the Seychelles’ tourism and airport authorities which he said have supported the airline to re-launch its Seychelles route.
“Seychelles is a popular destination with our passengers and we are delighted to offer them an opportunity to travel here,” said Dunleavy, adding that Qatar Airways provides connections to 150 destinations.
Qatar airways’ first flight to Seychelles was in December 2004. The airline ceased its operation in the island nation nearly a decade later, in September 2013, citing ‘commercial reasons’ without giving specific details.
The airline announced it would resume flights to the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, at the international tourism trade fair, ITB, in Berlin in March. Seychelles becomes the 14th new destination – and the third in Africa added to the airline’s route map this year.
In a press statement issued on Monday, Qatar Airways Group’s chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Our aim is to provide our passengers with greater choice and variety when selecting their holiday destinations.”
Qatar Airways adds to two other Middle Eastern carriers, including the Air Seychelles’ strategic partner, UAE-based Etihad Airways, and the Dubai-based Emirates Airline, currently flying to Seychelles.
The archipelago’s Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Minister, Alain St Ange said Doha, along with Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the main hubs in the Middle Eastern region that provide connectivity to many countries.
“Seychelles, being a group of islands, rely a lot on air connectivity to develop its tourism market and economy and today we are further consolidating this with the arrival of Qatar Airways,” said St Ange.
|Qatar Airways is the latest of several international carriers adding Seychelles to their network or expanding their service to the island nation. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Qatar Airways will operate daily flights to Seychelles using an Airbus 320, with a carrying capacity of 144 economy seats and 12 business seats.
Qatar Airways was this year awarded the world's Best Business Class; Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline Staff Service in the Middle East at the prestigious 2016 World Airline Awards managed by international air transport rating organization Skytrax.