FPAC better positioned to understand SCAA reforms and revisions |17 February 2023
As part of its renewed work approach, the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) of the National Assembly yesterday continued its visits, this time heading to the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) at the Seychelles International Airport.
The committee, led by leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and chairman Sebastien Pillay, had the opportunity to meet with chief executive Garry Albert and other SCAA management and officials, where discussions centered around the company’s operations, financial performance over recent years, as well as its future direction as it seeks to undertake a number of reforms.
Although he expressed his disappointment over the fact that no SCAA board members were present, Hon. Pillay expressed his satisfaction at the staff and management who made an effort to meet committee members and to provide them with information.
“We will need some additional information, because, we are mainly concerned with economic gains, especially from a financial standpoint, and how SCAA is performing from an economic perspective, the challenges it is facing in upgrading its services, increasing revenues. As we know, the airport is the first point which visitors see, and we know that the airport is linked to the tourism industry, so there is an important component that we need to manage,” Mr Pillay stated.
For his part, Mr Albert noted that the meet came at an opportune moment, and provided an opportunity for SCAA to paint for the assembly members a better picture of SCAA’s functions, challenges and opportunities, and the rationale behind certain developments. Moreover, it was an ample opportunity to update the committee on the different international obligations to which Seychelles is bound as an actor in the global aviation industry.
“Airport and aviation is in the interest of each and every one, in the interest of Seychellois, and of government as well as international organisations. We need to ensure that our stakeholders understand what we are doing and why we are doing it,” Mr Albert stated.
As SCAA seeks to become more profitable to be able to cover its expenses, finance projects and in line with obligations of organisations including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), SCAA is looking to revise its fees for international airline operators while introducing fees for local aviation operators. The biggest component of aviation activity within Seychelles’ airspace applies to domestic activities.
It is unlikely that passengers will feel the brunt, although airlines who also use Seychelles’ airspace will also be affected.
“With the many investments which we have made recently, and which we will be making, we need to review our charges. We did not do so in the past as we were yet to move to the level of development required. It is not fair to charge a price for service when you are yet to reach the level, also in terms of technology,” he said.
SCAA has over the past few years embarked on major renovations, and has larger projects in the pipeline, including upgrading its air navigations systems, and adopting more advanced technology, which comes at a significant cost.
“We have upgraded in the past but we absorbed these costs. Therefore, today when we are to embark on even larger investments, we lack the reserves to go into these investments; either we would have to go to the bank to borrow to finance the investments, or government will suffer as it will not benefit with dividends. Hence why we need to revise our charges,” Mr Albert explained.
The last revision in fees took place during the 1990s.
Hon. Pillay concurred that SCAA must find means of generating more revenues to “expand, to increase revenue, to sustain its activities”.
“It needs to do this through funds which it generates, and these funds will come through fees which others who rely on its services must pay, including local operators involved in aviation services,” Mr Pillay stated.
With the resumption of the National Assembly in March, SCAA will be hoping to get the seal of approval for a Bill which will see the separation of the authority including a regulatory side which will remain as SCAA, and a second component, the Airport Authority. This will require changes to the legal framework, and that SCAA be regarded as a commercial entity.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of the meeting between FPAC and SCAA and subsequent visit to several facilities at the airport.