Air Seychelles celebrates its inaugural flight from Kazakhstan |28 December 2022
Our national carrier, Air Seychelles, yesterday celebrated its inaugural flight from Kazakhstan in Central Asia.
The Airbus A320 neo with 12 seats in business class and 156 in economy class, landed at the Seychelles International Airport at 8.20am yesterday with 137 premium passengers from the scheduled flight from Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, a country of almost 20 million people.
The narrow bodied aeroplane which had taken 10 hours to reach our shores after a one hour technical stopover in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, was welcomed with the traditional water cannon as it taxied into its parking bay in front of the international airport.
Passengers disembarking the plane were greeted at the foot of the staircase by the Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques; the principal secretary for Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Alan Renaud; the chief executive of Air Seychelles, Sandy Benoiton; and the director general for Destination Planning and Development in the department of Tourism, Paul Lebon.
They were further welcomed outside of the airport with tokens and traditional music and dances performed by traditional band ‘Lansiv’.
The airline’s ‘Ptimerl De Zil’ left the country to Kazakhstan on December 24 via Tel Aviv, Israel, to thereafter leave the city of Almaty on December 26 at 9pm local time for the 10-hour journey back home. The flight was commanded by Captain Herve Morel with Dereck Imaduwa and Jaqueline Confiance as first officer and cabin manager respectively.
To lure the Kazakh tourists in the country has been the work of the department of Tourism in collaboration Air Seychelles, the local destination management companies (DMCs) and three other DMCs based in Kazakhstan. Air Seychelles is expected to operate a twice weekly scheduled seasonal service to Almaty.
Speaking to the press, Minister Derjacques said that with the ongoing war in the Ukraine which has caused a recession in Europe and the country’s high inflation, we had had to build up strategies to prepare ourselves for new eventualities and looking at new markets is part of the strategy to which Kazakhstan has been seen to be a potential good tourism market.
He noted that it has been two years since Air Seychelles has been trying to tap into the Kazakhstan tourism market made up of disposable income and middle class travellers.
“In the past few months, the Kazakhs have been going to the Maldives and we thought that we could offer them a better destination, a fresh market and a new area for them to visit which is Seychelles,” Minister Derjacques said.
Minister Derjacques noted that many more visitors from Kazakhstan and from around its neighbouring countries from this part of Central Asia are coming in the country on the twice weekly flights as from January and February 2023 while they will also study demand market which will determine the number of weekly flights to Almaty.
He added that while the Kazakhs are mostly familiar with branded chains of hotels, the tourism department will be working with small guest houses and other small tourism businesses in order to showcase to the visitors other alternatives for them to enjoy their holiday.
“This is a new market and we all have to work to ensure that we develop it further with products that will make them spend more so that we reap the maximum benefit,” said Minister Derjacques, who noted that other businessmen could also tap into the new route with the possibility for more airline expansion given that the Central Asian region has a rich agricultural sector with a wide variety of products.
Mr Lebon said that the Tourism department is focusing on high end tourism for the country and Kazakhstan tourism market is one among other lucrative markets it is focusing to develop further.
He stated that before the Covid-19 pandemic, we were receiving between 300 to 500 visitors from Kazakhstan coming from other airlines and now with the new direct flight and new marketing strategy, the demand to visit our country will grow.
He added that the Kazakhs are big spenders and they come single, as a couple and families like any other visitors to our shores.
He said that the department will be working with stakeholders to improve on the country’s product diversification, especially with regard to our culture and heritage, as new offerings to our visitors to try to get them to spend more.
He said that together with stakeholders they will also conduct marketing visits to Kazakhstan in 2023 to build on the flight booking momentum.
This seasonal service by Air Seychelles will run until March 27, 2023 with twice weekly flights along with added bonus connections to Mauritius, the Maldives and Johannesburg.
The inaugural flight follows months of negotiations that resulted in the signature of our first Bilateral Air Services Agreement with the Kazakhstan government on the sidelines of the 41st ICAO conference held in Montreal, Canada this year.
Patrick Joubert / Press release from the Ministry of Transport