Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, celebrated the arrival of its inaugural non-stop scheduled service from Beijing this morning.
Flight HM888 touched down at Seychelles International Airport at 10:20 am with 208 guests on board. Following the long-haul journey, guests were welcomed by a ceremonial water-cannon salute and a delegation including Joël Morgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport and Chairman of Air Seychelles, Alain St. Ange, Minister of Culture and Tourism, senior management of Air Seychelles, as well as representatives from the travel trade and media.
Before embarking the flight in Beijing, guests were pleasantly surprised by the inaugural celebration organized in the departure gate at the Terminal 3 of the Beijing International Airport where Roy Kinnear, CEO of Air Seychelles and representatives of Beijing International Airport, Oriental Sky Aviation Services (Air Seychelles Ground Service Agent) and travel trade greeted guests and unveiled the inaugural flight banners officially announcing the boarding of the first non-stop air link between Seychelles and China. While boarding the flight HM888, all guests were presented with special certificates to commemorate the historic service.
Upon disembarking in Seychelles, guests were warmly greeted by Air Seychelles cabin crew and presented with freshly-picked frangipani flower garlands and red colour envelopes, provided by the Seychelles Tourism Board, containing symbolic value gift of 10 SCR notes which are usually presented in China at social gatherings such as Chinese New Year.
Joël Morgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport and Chairman of Air Seychelles, said: “We are extremely proud to welcome the first flight from Beijing this morning. This marks the start of another exciting chapter for Seychelles as a country and Air Seychelles as it enters one of the fastest-growing travel markets in the world.
“This year we mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Seychelles and China, and I am confident our friendship will continue to strengthen with this important new air bridge.”
Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, said: “In 2015, China has grown to become the sixth-largest source of inbound tourism in Seychelles, with almost 14,000 visitors recorded. Scheduled non-stop Beijing service will build on this position, bringing even larger numbers of leisure travellers to our islands and making a significant contribution to local businesses and the people of Seychelles.”
Roy Kinnear, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first guests travelling on our new scheduled non-stop flights from Beijing to Seychelles.
“We have ensured that they receive the on board service that is tailored to the Chinese market, with Mandarin-speaking cabin crew, Chinese language and subtitled films on the inflight entertainment system and traditional dishes on the menu, with chopsticks available.
“Being the national airline of Seychelles we have ensured that they also get the chance to experience our famous Creole spirit and warm hospitality as they flew across the Indian Ocean.
“The first flights have been scheduled to arrive in time for the Chinese Spring Festival, allowing travellers from China to celebrate this important annual holiday on our world-famous tropical islands.
“The number eight is considered to be one of the luckiest in Chinese culture, and with the success of the first HM888 flight, we are confident that this route will prove to be a success as Air Seychelles continues to expand and bring more tourists to our island paradise.”
The Air Seychelles Beijing non-stop service was recently launched at an event organized by Air Seychelles in Beijing. The conference gathered over 200 media and travel trade representatives.
At the event, commenting about the importance of non - stop Beijing services for further development of Seychelles tourism, Sherin Naiken, Chief Executive Officer of Seychelles Tourism Board, said: "It is indeed a proud moment and an important milestone in the development of the Chinese market to finally have a direct flight connecting Seychelles and China. The flight is an important catalyst for the future growth of this market and I thank Air Seychelles for making it happen. Our priority for this market is in working closely with our national airline to grow the market so that soon we will be able to increase the frequencies and provide our visitors from Far East with more choice for travel.
"The non - stop services will not only boost our China Market but also smaller, emerging ones we are currently developing, like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan."
Both inaugural flights HM887 (Seychelles – Beijing) and HM888 (Beijing – Seychelles), were operated by Seychellois pilots Captain Mervin Sicobo and First Officer Cubert Bonnelame and attended by the Seychellois cabin crew and a Mandarin speaking ambassador.
Air Seychelles flight schedule for Seychelles-Beijing flights, commencing 2 February, 2016:
1:30 am (+1)
* 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.