The recent surprise sell out of Government of Seychelles interest in the national air carrier Air Seychelles, has exposed the very deep rifts that exist in the Air Seychelles failed business model.
UAE Takes 40% Interest and Control
Most are knowledgeable of the 40% interest the UAE carrier Etihad has taken in Air Seychelles. Many have called this a national shame for Seychelles. It is a shame. Etihad Managing Director has said that after the acquisition: “Etihad is not considering any other acquisition because its plate in now full with the purchase of Air Berlin and Air Seychelles”.
Indeed the Etihad plate is full. It has also negotiated full control of Air Seychelles, in spite of the ex-national air carrier having only One (1) single Boeing 767-300 that can do international flights. Etihad has placed its own CEO and Chairman at the helm of Air Seychelles and they even control the domestic segment of the Air Seychelles Company. Here is where our problems start and I will propose solutions.
Domestic Fare Hikes Outrageous!
Last week Air Seychelles hiked air fares between Mahe and Praslin from Sr.512.00 round trip to Sr. 1,600.00 round trip. This rate was a local residential rate and Tourist were already paying in hard currency the high way robbery rate now applied to residents purchasing tickets under some sort of code. This rate is not only outrageous, it is ridiculous. In Europe one can purchase a ticket from Heathrow to Spain for 20.00 pounds. Most of these domestic flights are empty or operate under 50% capacity.
Even Minister Morgan had no clue the price hike was on the way. Poor Minister Morgan kept in the dark by his own Frankenstein creation.
In the past Air Seychelles advertised over Twenty (20) flights to Praslin per day. Today, we are lucky if Air Seychelles runs Four (4) flights per day to Praslin. It is doing close to what Cat Cocos does. But the boat carries over 500 people on two trips. Air Seychelles can carry 80 passengers on Four (4) trips. Do the numbers and you will know the loss of market share for Air Seychelles over the years?
Service Is Just Plain Bad
The other common gripe with Air Seychelles domestic for years now has been that service is just plain bad. It sucks. It is a bad experience. Delays on Air Seychelles are common. Flight cancellations are a regular event. The front desk check- in clerks treats you like you are baggage yourself and rude is a polite pronoun for many of them.
In spite of being advised by management to be polite with travelers, the system they are tasked to run, is patently flawed and they too being human, run out of patience when faced with reoccurring failure of Air Seychelles ability to deliver good service at a fair price.
Cat Cocos Beating The Plane To The Ground
The other inter-island option for travelers is Cat Cocos. They run a more efficient check in service than Air Seychelles domestic. They are even more professional and handle your booking much quicker. On the route, you are offered a choice of seating classes, food, beverages, and even in route DVD and CD entertainment. Even better then Air Seychelles; the seats are clean and laundered regularly. Leatherette seats are available in Lazio class and they do recline. When one takes the delays of inter island Air Seychelles into account, you get to Praslin on Cat Cocos in about the same time as taking Air Seychelles, but it is much cheaper. An economy seat runs for Sr. 169.00. A Lazio Business seat with food and drinks cold towel, a smiling hostess and reclining seat cost Sr. 285.00. If you take Ten (10) trips, you get one free. On Air Seychelles, you can take 1,000 trips, you will not even get a coke for free, but you will be guaranteed one thing: before the 1,000 trip, the ticket price will go up and so will your blood pressure.
Competition Will Clean Up This Mess
A plethora of bad reviews has plagued Air Seychelles for years now. We complain to management, they do nothing. Today, even management does not know what to do.
Air Seychelles Domestic is now run out of Abu Dhabi. It is a reality and it is a pure shame. To clean up this mess which is having a detrimental impact on Praslin and La Digue as possible destinations for guests, the time has come
for the private sector of Praslin, La Digue and Mahe to come together and create another airline company to make inter island flight feasible and functional with realistic pricing and a “Seychellois Spirit” service. This is the only solution at this point to rectify a non responsive Air Seychelles, to the problems we have been facing with its operations for years now. The recent callous price hike is simply the straw that broke the camels back.
Make Public Share Offers Raise Capital For new Planes
To push this along, business leaders need to group and act. Make a public offer to raise capital to buy new planes and deliver excellent inter island service from Mahe onwards. The company should be 100% Seychellois owned and we can leave Air Seychelles in the hands of James Michel and Etihad. We can even call it “Seychelles Airways”, and put an end to this madness that is hurting our tourism industry and the entire inter-island community, which even includes misguided Communists as you know.
After Seychelles Airways is off the ground, let’s go find the right plane to do direct flights from Europe our main markets and get back into Tourism with a “Seychellois Spirit”.
We can do it, yes, we can!
Sesel Pou Seselwa!
May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois!