After exploring growth options in mainland China and the Beijing and Shanghai markets, Air Seychelles has selected Hong Kong as its next long-haul destination and will launch, subject to regulatory approval, a three times weekly service from the archipelago’s international airport gateway in Mahé via Abu Dhabi from early 2013 when its second Airbus A330-200 is delivered.
“We see Hong Kong as a significant driver for future tourism growth in the Seychelles, so we are positioning Air Seychelles to seize the opportunity and support this vital market,” said Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer, Air Seychelles. "The Seychelles needs a national carrier which can support the growing number of travellers into the archipelago, not just from our historical markets in Europe, but also the powerful emerging ones.”
Hong Kong's economy is among the fastest growing in the world, supporting a booming middle class with a high disposable income per capita by global standards. These factors have brought a remarkable increase in the number of travellers coming out of the region in recent years. In fact, according to visitor statistics since 2010, the number of travellers to the Seychelles from Hong Kong has more than doubled.
The decision to operate the route via Abu Dhabi, further strengthens the relationship between Air Seychelles and its shareholder Etihad Airways. Through this growth it will increase weekly flights on the Mahé – Abu Dhabi link from four to seven, while the inclusion of the Etihad Airways ‘EY’ code on the services will provide additional feed. Air Seychelles sees Hong Kong as not just a point-to-point destination but as a wider gateway for the carrier to expand its reach within the region, with connection opportunities to be offered to more than 30 destinations across mainland China, Japan and Australasia.
Etihad Airways does not serve the Hong Kong market with passenger services at the current time and this link from Air Seychelles will further boost its network at Abu Dhabi International Airport, while supporting the point-to-point demand between Hong Kong and the Seychelles.
“With our 40 per cent equity stake in Air Seychelles, it makes strong commercial sense for us to work together on opportunities where cooperation is possible. The resulting synergies bring about significant efficiency benefits for both Etihad Airways and Air Seychelles,” said James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways. “The new service connects two of the world’s leading international financial and tourism centres, a move we believe will stimulate the growth of commerce and trade between the UAE and China, the UAE’s second largest trading partner.”
In 2011 an estimated 15,000 O&D passengers flew between Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong on the services of Cathay Pacific Airways, which launched a four times weekly link in June 2011, but it now offers just two weekly rotations between the destinations.
“Through our partnership with Etihad Airways, we have been able to serve a much larger network and make improvements to the business that we could not have achieved independently. We are on track to break even this year, ensuring that Air Seychelles will continue to grow and thrive for many years to come," added Ball.