Air Seychelles has resumed passenger services to Johannesburg, South Africa and will fly to Tel Aviv, Israel beginning on Monday, said a top official of the airline.
The airline’s first flight to Joburg was on Saturday, November 7, and the company’s chief executive, Remco Althuis, said that the flights will take place weekly until December when the frequency is slated to increase.
Althuis also confirmed that there is a planned flight from Seychelles to Tel Aviv on Monday, November 16 and a return flight on November 18.
“We will have three flights a week to Tel Aviv, and in December the frequency to Johannesburg will increase to three times a week,” said Althuis.
Air Seychelles is expected to fly to the Maldives once a week as from December.
“Historically, the Johannesburg flight had a lot of connectivity from Mumbai and we feel by enabling the South African market to sell the Maldives flight, we can sustain enough demand to maintain three frequencies a week,” he told SNA.
The national carrier of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, usually flies four routes: Mauritius, Mumbai, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv.
Due to the varying impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on destinations, both Mauritius and Mumbai routes are currently not viable. Althuis hopes the two destinations may reopen by December.
The Air Seychelles chief executive said that the scheduled flights are economically viable and that throughout the global pandemic, the airline has made sure that all operating flights generate at least enough income to pay for the fuel, salaries, and all the other costs associated with flying.
“And we feel the time is right to start schedule flying again. We have critically assessed the availability of passengers and cargo to pay for the flights and thus far it looks promising,” he added.
Althuis said that during the pandemic, Air Seychelles operated flexibly, thanks to demand for chartered flights which allowed the national carrier to explore 30 new airports.
“Each of these flights generated a new flight plan which was operationally quite challenging but beyond that we have looked at where there are possibilities that fall within the range of the aircraft we operate- which is the Airbus A320neo which flies between six to seven hours,” he said.
On the special measures Air Seychelles is taking to ensure the safety of its guest and employees, Althuis said the airline follows strict regulations on COVID-19 put forth by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), as well as European Aviation Safety (EASA), both of which govern global aviation.
“Our staff wear masks, there are special protocols for servers, and of course we try to minimise interactions as much as we can. For example, previously we have flown cargo and nobody from the destinations were allowed on our aircraft. And our passengers have to wear masks,” he said.
Althuis said that Air Seychelles expects to maximise the utilisation of the A320neos, as well as cargo flights based on the increasing demand. Despite a drop in scheduled passenger flights, the demand for ground handling of cargo planes has increased, he said.