Aeroflot returns after 17-year break |06 April 2021
After seventeen years, Aeroflot made its triumphant return to Seychelles on Saturday morning.
The Aeroflot flight will operate twice a week – Friday and Sunday.
The Boeing 77-300 carrying 402 passengers touched down at the international airport at 9.35am.
According to the aviation tradition, the inaugural flight from Moscow was greeted with a water canon at the airport along with traditional dances and music for the tourists who disembarked.
Present at the arrival were the Minister for Tourism & Foreign Affairs, Sylvestre Radegonde, Minister for Transport Antony Derjacques, Russian ambassador H.E Artem Alexandrovich Kozhin, among other officials.
“The resumption of direct flights from Moscow to Seychelles testifies to the confidence of the Russian national carrier in our tourism industry,” said Minister Radegonde while speaking to the press ceremony after the arrival.
He noted that Seychelles is a much sought-after destination in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Russian market has always been a profitable one for Seychelles, featuring in the top 7 destinations every year.
“In 2003, when Aeroflot pulled out of Seychelles, we were receiving around 3,000 visitors from Russia per year. In 2019, a little more than 13,000 visitors from Russia and the CIS visited Seychelles, corresponding to a slight decrease over previous years. In simple terms, we lost market share to one of our main competitors: Maldives. The figures speak for themselves. In 2019, according to official data, over 83,000 Russian tourists visited the Maldives, breaking all pre-pandemic records.
“With the introduction of twice-weekly flights by Aeroflot, I am hopeful that we can not only reclaim, but increase, our share of the Russian and CIS markets. It is within our ability to do so. We can do it if we all work together as a team – government and the private sector together,” said Minister Radegonde.
He further added that we need to refine our product, distinguish ourselves from other similar destinations by providing our visitors with the ultimate Seychelles experience.
“We need to redouble our marketing efforts. We need to provide value for money, quality service in our establishments. We need to get out of our comfort zones and to stop being complacent. I said it earlier this month and I shall repeat it: we are not the unique destination we claim to be! Competition out there is fierce and relentless,” the minister said.
The minister further explained that the resumption of direct flights from Russia to Seychelles fares well for all of us.
“It augurs well, not only for the influx of visitor arrivals, but also for relations between Seychelles and the Russian Federation. This event is the result of long
and arduous negotiations between the government of Seychelles and the embassy of the Russian Federation,” he said.
He ended by saying that Russia has been a valued partner of Seychelles since our Independence as we have achieved many things together and we shall continue to achieve more in the future in the spirit of cooperation, solidarity and mutual respect.
“The return of Aeroflot to our shores will, I am confident, contribute to this,” Minister Radegonde concluded.
On his part Minister Derjacques noted that it has been an extremely hard year for Seychelles, but given the successful efforts by the government in following a strict vaccination programme, it decided to reopen its shores to visitors.
“I want to urge the public to show courtesy and be considerate of the fees they charge to our guests as they are helping us to build back our economy,” he said.
The chief marketing officer of Aeroflot, Anton Myagkov, said: “We are very proud to be the first European airline to come back to Seychelles in 2021 with a regular service between Moscow and Mahé.”
He said that with the opening of the new route, Aeroflot is now offering more opportunities to all travellers bringing them closer to normal life and new experiences and joy.
“In 2020 we saw a lot of demand for some paradise island experience with unique and beautiful beaches. Because of Russia's location, our travellers want to go to a unique tropical country during winter, autumn and spring. That is the reason we are here,” said Mr Myagkov.
The airline will be operating the 8 hour and 20 minute flight twice-weekly to Seychelles as from April 11.
“We are getting a lot of bookings and this is the reason why we opened a second frequency. We expect that in a couple of weeks we will be opening a third frequency,” he added.
The accompanying photos show some highlights of Aeroflot’s arrival on Saturday.