James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, today welcomed Air Seychelles’ two new DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft at a special ceremony at Seychelles International Airport.
The aircraft, recently delivered from Canada’s Viking Air Limited, will operate between Seychelles International Airport and Praslin, as well as other islands in the archipelago, including Bird, Denis and Frégate.
Greeted by a traditional water cannon salute, the two aircraft, named ‘Isle of Bird’ and ‘Isle of La Digue’ respectively, arrived in sequence this afternoon in front of the Air Seychelles VIP lounge.
President Michel cut a ceremonial ribbon to welcome the Twin Otters to their new home, and was accompanied by Danny Faure, Vice President of the Republic of Seychelles, Joël Morgan, Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs and Transport and Air Seychelles Board Chairman and Manoj Papa, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles.
Honouring tradition and representing the country’s interfaith committee, the two aircraft were then blessed by Roman Catholic Priest David Alcindor and Anglican Priest Danny Elizabeth.
Cabinet ministers, government officials, diplomats, members of the National Assembly, representatives of tourism bodies, media and Air Seychelles staff were also present, including Captain Sandy Benoiton, Air Seychelles Chief Pilot for Domestic Services, and Captain Eddy Cesar.
Both pilots were part of the ferry crews that flew the aircraft from Victoria, British Columbia, and Farnborough, United Kingdom to Seychelles.
President Michel conveyed his thanks and appreciation to the Air Seychelles Board, management team and staff of the airline for successfully charting a new route for Air Seychelles, one which has turned the island carrier into one of the world’s aviation turnaround success stories.
He said: “Today is a proud milestone in the history of Air Seychelles and on behalf of the people of Seychelles, I feel particularly proud of the Seychellois crew members and staff who have worked so hard and come so far to create a new and revitalised Air Seychelles. These two aircraft will no doubt brighten our skies as well as enhance our domestic services.”
Minister Morgan said: “This is an incredible day, not just for Air Seychelles, but for the Seychelles. Our investment in new aircraft is a result of the success of our turnaround program and of our strong and rewarding partnership with Etihad Airways. Our new Twin Otters will secure the future of inter-island air services and boost Seychelles tourism.”
Manoj Papa said: “The Twin Otters have renewed our domestic fleet and their early delivery is a clear demonstration that we are on the right track with our business. We intend to grow our domestic operations further, and we have the right tools now in place to better serve the growing demand for more access to and from the various islands that make up this beautiful archipelago.
“Our customers will experience better onboard comfort, pilots will fly new technology, and Air Seychelles will remain the vital link that connects businesses, families, friends and visitors with the very best of what Seychelles has to offer.”
The multi-million dollar fleet announcement for the purchase of three 19-seat DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft was made last October in a deal between the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles and Viking Air Limited. One remaining Twin Otter is scheduled for delivery in mid-2015.
The Twin Otter flight path to Seychelles included stops at Churchill (Canada), Iqaluit (Canada), Reykjavik (Iceland), Malmo (Sweden), Nis (Serbia), Aswan (Egypt) with a final stop in Nairobi (Kenya).
Isle of La Digue also made a stop at the Farnborough Airshow (United Kingdom) and the total ferry flight distance was 9,175 nautical miles (17,000 km) per aircraft, the longest sector being from Aswan to Nairobi (distance 1,528 nautical miles).
About Air Seychelles
Air Seychelles was established in 1978 and began long-haul service in 1983. The airline currently offers international flights to Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg, Mauritius and Mumbai. Air Seychelles also offers more than 350 domestic scheduled flights a week throughout the archipelago, including domestic charter services. As the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, Air Seychelles is a pillar of tourism, the island nation’s strongest and growing economic sector. The airline maintains a strategic partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and 40 per cent stakeholder.