Air Seychelles retains 81% of staff with restructuring plan


 Mr Steller (left) and Mr Albert at the press conference yesterday

Announcing the redundancies and future plans at the Air Seychelles boardroom at Pointe Larue yesterday, chief executive Bram Steller said those made redundant include all staff at European destinations, but also include some locally -- in flight and ground operations, engineering, finance, marketing and administration.

“It is a painful exercise, but we hope that those remaining will help save the rest of the company,” he said.

His deputy, Gary Albert, indicated that initially a higher number of redundancies was envisaged with the downsizing, but the government had requested the airline to reduce the number and avoid “any drastic decisions”.

He noted that while the total salary component usually came to 35% of total expenditure for most airlines, this was lower for Air Seychelles.

Mr Steller said it is hoped that the number retained will be sufficient to maintain the flights to South Africa and Mauritius and other routes which Air Seychelles hopes to service soon.

Those made redundant locally are expected to attend interviews for possible recruitment by Emirates, Etihad and Qatar to be held at the Air Seychelles Academy this week.

With the return of two Boeing 767s to the International Leasing Finance Corporation (ILFC) in Seattle, USA in October 2011 and another two within the coming weeks, Air Seychelles will be left with one such aircraft to service the two routes.

Mr Steller said that an order has meanwhile been placed with the ILFC for a Boeing 737-800, and its arrival should overlap with the remaining Boeing 767, expected to leave in August.

He said Air Seychelles is meanwhile hoping to strike strategic partnerships to service the Far East and Abu Dhabi.

Mr Steller said it was a mistake for Air Seychelles to have a fleet consisting entirely of Boeing 767s, which had high leasing costs and heavy fuel usage -- even for the regional routes -- and which will soon be obsolete.

“We need aircraft with low fuel economy and which are modern to face up to competition,” he said, adding that such aircraft must also fit in with Air Seychelles’ partners, for maintenance and replacement purposes.

Mr Steller is leaving for Abu Dhabi where he will intensify negotiations with Etihad Airways  for a code-share agreement for future Air Seychelles flights to Abu Dhabi, “which would strengthen the airline’s profitability”.

Mr Steller said he was optimistic about the regional market and the airline has already  registered improvements in its current regional operations.

He said that Johannesburg flights were full and after six weeks of a third flight, the route is steadily improving. Air Seychelles flights to South Africa yielded some 2,000 visitors during the festive season, a 10% increase over last year.

“The marketing drive in South Africa will kick off in the first week of February, and together with the Seychelles Tourism Board, we will re-launch the Seychelles brand in a big way,” Mr Steller concluded.

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