Air Seychelles, the national carrier of the Republic of Seychelles, today commenced thrice-weekly flights to the Indian city of Mumbai.
The historic maiden flight, operating under code HM 260, touched down at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 2:55 am, where it was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute and by a party of dignitaries and airport representatives.
Onboard the inaugural flight was a high-profile delegation comprising Manoj Papa, Air Seychelles’ Chief Executive Officer; Sherin Naiken, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board; Freddy Karkaria, Chairman of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, government officials, tourism and trade partners, senior executives from the carrier and representatives from the Indian and business communities, who participated in a cake-cutting ceremony shortly after disembarking.
Situated on India’s west coast, Mumbai is the financial and economic powerhouse of India and the home of Bollywood. With an estimated population of 21 million, it is the largest and wealthiest urban centre in India, with a rising and significant tourism market.
Mr Papa said the new Mumbai flights would meet growing demand for business and leisure travel between India and the Seychelles, as well as the Indian Ocean and East Africa.
“Mumbai is the 6th most-populated city in the world and represents a key strategic addition to our growing route portfolio. Our three weekly services, which have a capacity of over 21,000 annual seats, will increase the flow of tourism and trade from India into Seychelles and help boost traffic to our archipelago from the wider Asia region.
“As a popular gateway to India, we have optimised our schedule to offer seamless two-way connections from Mumbai to cities such as Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, simplifying the travel options for both inbound and outbound passengers. We expect strong feed to Seychelles and our new destinations, Dar es Salaam and Antananarivo, as well as Mauritius and Johannesburg, all of which have a sizeable Indian diaspora.”
“We will continue to work closely with our equity partner, Etihad Airways, which has a strong and growing presence in India, and our Etihad partner, Jet Airways, to ensure our on-going success in this exciting market.”
Flight HM260 operates on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, departing from Seychelles at 8:45 pm, and arriving in Mumbai early the next morning at 2:55 am. The aircraft has a short turnaround time of one hour, departing Mumbai at 4:00 am and arriving in Seychelles at 7:00 am the same day.
Minister Morgan said: “The launch of services to Mumbai is a natural and exciting development for Air Seychelles and the archipelago. Our connection to India was forged in the late 18th century and has since developed into a defining characteristic of our demography and culture today.
“Our Mumbai flights will strengthen these existing bilateral ties while stimulating the level of economic and commercial activity between Seychelles and India. The net level of trade between our countries grew to USD $53.7 million in 2013, and with 1.5 tonnes of extra bellyhold capacity on our Airbus A320 per week, we can boost it even further.
Minister Morgan noted there is strong interest in travel to Seychelles: “We are confident these flights will contribute significantly to inbound tourism from India. Our archipelago is well recognised as a premiere honeymoon destination and a choice filming location for Bollywood, and with sub five hour flights, it means we are now more accessible than ever to both business and leisure travellers.”
Air Seychelles’ service is operated on a newly appointed Airbus A320, configured into a twin-cabin setting and 16 Business Class and 120 Economy Class seats.
Dar es Salaam (DAR)
All times are local
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.