There has been a constant stream of messages and emails from contacts in the Seychelles of late, over the fate of the application launched by the owners of Intershore Aviation, owners of the Seychelles Airlines trade name.
With months gone by already has apparently no progress been made but by the look of it, and according to feedback received when making further enquiries, it seems that the application has been put on ice by the powers that be, citing issues over the trade name chosen by Intershore.
Wrote one regular source: ‘I told you when you wrote about this first, that they will be blocked at every corner. The last thing Air Seychelles now needs, in their own thinking, is a rival eating into their market share. Their new expansion plans will probably cost them an arm and a leg to get the routes to Dar es Salaam and Madagascar into profit territory. India should be a different thing, there is demand, but again there is Mihin already offering flights via Colombo and Emirates from many destinations in India via Dubai. What I am saying is that the money Air Seychelles has made over the past two years is now being invested into new routes and aircraft and they hope it pays off. Seychelles Airlines on the other hand banks on nonstop flights from Paris and there are the Air Seychelles flights via Abu Dhabi a handicap for them. China was first to be nonstop but had to be routed through Abu Dhabi, and we all know why. It is time we get competition on the island with another airline but there lies the problem. I don’t see how SCAA and the Ministry of Transport can be impartial or independent in decision making and grant the newcomers a license when they are so directly linked to the national airline. Today it is the trade name, tomorrow it will be another issue and another after that. The present shareholding and board membership in Air Seychelles tells that story without saying another word. I don’t see Seychelles Airlines happen, not this year, not next year, perhaps not for many years’.
Other regular sources made similar comments and expressed similar sentiments though not one wanted to go on the record, claiming the matter was too sensitive to be raised in public and that unless the SHTA would take up the lead on this as an association, individuals were not likely to stand up to be counted.
The issue of competition from within the islands was also raised earlier in the year during an interview with Air Seychelles but understandably, in retrospect, not answered, itself an answer of course. It seems obvious that the present delays for Seychelles Airlines’ application process, some in fact termed them outright obstructions, was primarily favouring the national carrier.
Additional information passed on related to the challenges in the French market place for the Seychelles, a factor which has led to the accumulated 2014 arrival figures being very slightly below last year’s record numbers, and there was consensus among all the sources sampled that only nonstop flights could arrest the decline in France since travel via secondary hubs was seen as cumbersome and seen as prone to greater risks of delayed flights and lost baggage. The just ended Top Resa travel trade fair, France’s most important one, will no doubt have brought additional insights for the Seychelles tourism industry through the interaction with French travel agents and tour operators but at least one source promptly added that insights will not necessarily translate into corrective action nor see the Seychelles Airlines application receive the thumbs up.
Challenging times for sure as aviation in the Seychelles appears at cross roads, with government at odds with a significant portion of the private sector, which, going by the wave of comments received, appears in majority in favour of the new airline.
‘Give these people a chance’ added a source in closing before concluding ‘…as otherwise the entire liberalization of our economy will be put under a question mark. This is, what do you call it, the litmus test for opening up economic spaces’.
E turbo news.