Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles welcomed today first of the two new Twin Otter DHC-6 400 aircraft into the Air Seychelles domestic fleet.
Named Praslin after the second-largest island in Seychelles, the aircraft was welcomed by a delegation of government, tourism and airline officials.
On the occasion, Air Seychelles held a ceremony where five pilots in its domestic operations were promoted to the rank of Captain, including Christopher Mousbe, Michael Afif, Andy Benoit, Gavin Hermitte and Balaji Naidoo.
Jean Weeling-Lee, Chairman of Air Seychelles, said: “Seeing Praslin touch down this morning, and our young pilots receive their commanders bars, made me feel very proud of our national airline.
“Twin Otter aircraft have been an iconic sight in our skies for decades, and it’s great to see the latest generation enter our fleet, not to mention the development of the dedicated, professional pilots who will be flying them.”
Praslin is set to replace an older Twin Otter aircraft and will be joined later by another DHC-6 400 turboprop called “Farquhar”, where the oldest of the carrier’s island-hopping planes in the fleet will now be 5 years old.
“The arrival of our new Twin Otter aircraft will allow us to increase our number of flights by a further 12 per cent, providing more connectivity and convenience for residents and international holidaymakers in Seychelles.
“Over the past 12 months we have taken many steps to enhance the experience on our domestic flights, from the increase of the number of weekly flights offered to over 300, for example on a Friday we would be operating over 60 flights, launching of web check-in to making purchase of tickets for residents more convenient, this is the next step on that journey.
“Twin Otter aircraft are ideal and extremely reliable for the tropical environment of Seychelles. We believe that Praslin and Farquhar aircraft will serve the business and guests of Air Seychelles well for many years to come.
“At the same time we have put a lot of effort into creating a very strong pilot development programme which sees a career path for Seychellois nationals progressing through First Officer to Captains on the Twin Otter aircraft and then onwards onto the Airbus Jet fleet. I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate our five pilots here today on moving up to the rank of Captain, which is a testament to their skill and training.”
Captain Gavin Hermitte, 29, was one of the first officers promoted this morning. Hailing from Morne Blanc, he completed his secondary school studies at Anse Boileau in 2004 before taking up a course in mechanical and electrical engineering at the Seychelles Polytechnic. He started pilot training in South Africa at the Westline Aviation in 2013 and gained his commercial pilot license at the end of that year.
Captain Hermitte said: “I feel a great sense of achievement at gaining the rank of Captain – it’s a goal I have worked hard towards ever since starting my career at Air Seychelles. Aviation has fascinated me from a very young age as I wanted to follow in the footsteps of one of my cousins, who was also a pilot. It’s a privilege to work at Air Seychelles and the next step for me is to continue recording more flight hours to move onto bigger aircraft in the future.”
Both Twin Otter aircraft will enter operation before end of March, 2017.
On average, Air Seychelles flies more than 40 times between Mahé and Praslin each day, with carefully-scheduled morning and evening banks that connect seamlessly to international services arriving and departing from Seychelles International Airport.
In addition, the airline offers charter flights to other islands in the archipelago on its Twin Otter fleet, including Desroches, Bird and Denis, providing travellers with the opportunity to explore lesser-known reaches of the archipelago.
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.