Like many of you I am now more anxious than ever to know what will be the outcome of the re-positioning of Air Seychelles and the consequences of this move. It is a struggle for me not to be emotive or even angry at times but I know from being a trained soldier and Training airline Captain that strong emotions only goes to cloud judgement and leads to bad decisions or skewed judgements.
I appreciate that so many of you and staff are unable to get the full picture because you are not aware of all the FACTS and the real situation is once again clouded by rumours and half truths. This is not right.
Firstly it is very true that the aviation scene especially the European one is a bloodbath and leisure national airlines such as Air Mauritius and Air Seychelles are losing money on European routes.
It is a FACT that HM and ALL the Arab airlines are losing millions on the Seychelles route. Load factors are too low and yields are bad. Not to mention that we have practically no cargo outbound from Seychelles.
We need to understand why HM has got itself in such a situation.
Between 1997 until 2010, or for 13 lucky years the Govt did not ever have to bail out Air Seychelles and as such the airline did not receive a single rupee in subvention.
In 2010 HM received 33 million rupees from the shareholder to go against the purchase of a brand new twin otter which cost around 60 million rupees. This was passed by the national assembly. At the end of the financial year in March 2010 HM had registered a very modest profit of €500'000.
My board and I however warned Ministry of Finance back in 2009 that going forward that Air Seychelles would need huge subventions because it had been announced that Emirates , Qatar and Etihad were to be given daily frequencies after a powerful lobby from many in Seychelles especially the trade. We met with Ministry of Finance and documented our concerns. They called for a number of audits of the company.
There was firstly a Management Audit by PEMD Ministry of Finance, then an audit by Ernst & Young, France requested by IMF followed by a specialist Aviation audit by an American firm named GRA. The findings were shared with HM staff and GRA confirmed that HM was a well run company and no financial irregularities were discovered by any of those audits.
The HM board were told that because of the IMF program not to expect any Financial help. This is when we at the airline went out aggressively to look for acmi charters in 2009. We were successful and we actually had more demand than what we could effectively do. The first was the Falklands in Feb 2010 then the Mozambique, however the Mozambique was to start in April 2011 as we could not start earlier due to crew training etc... From April to November 2010 we had registered a loss of € 4 million and cash-flow was tight . We needed a line of credit from the banks to see us through till the Mozambique charter started. Those loses were expected as EK and QR had doubled their frequencies and our market share was decreasing rapidly. No surprises. Ministry of Finance were concerned that the IMF would not allow borrowings by HM and the board of Air Seychelles was changed late December 2010 and the PS Finance, Mr Afif became the vice Chairman of the board to ensure that changes were implemented and that the airline brought back into profit.