‘Qatar Airways yet to confirm pull-out’


But the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport said there has been discussions on the matter between the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) and Qatar Airways, who has verbally informed local authorities that the airline is planning to suspend its flights on the Seychelles route by September this year.

Minister Morgan gave these details during Question Time in the National Assembly on Tuesday when answering an urgent question by the leader of the opposition David Pierre relating to information that the airline is stopping its operations here.

Mr Pierre had asked Minister Morgan to give the following details:

• if Qatar Airways has already confirmed its decision as to whether it will continue serving the Seychelles route

• if yes what has forced the airline to take that decision

• if there has been negotiations to allow the airline to review its decision

• if steps are  being taken to protect the welfare of the airline’s Seychellois employees.

Minister Morgan also informed the Assembly that Seychellois staff working in the airline’s office here  have also been informed of the suspension of flights by the airline’s office in Doha.
“We are therefore taking it that the airline is pulling out of Seychelles even though we have not yet been notified formally,” Minister Morgan said.

Meanwhile the Minister for Labour and Human Resource Development Idith Alexander said if the airline stops servicing Seychelles there are provisions under the law to protect the 13 employees working in the airline’s office here.

Minister Alexander noted that to date her ministry has not received any formal request to start redundancy procedures for the employees but she informed the Assembly that since her ministry got wind of the information, officials have informed the airline of the procedures to follow in such circumstances once it is confirmed.  

Minister Morgan noted that Qatar Airways first started its operations here with four flights a week following the conclusion of an agreement for the service on July 5, 2004.
Flights started on December 4, 2004 with an airbus A319 which has a capacity to carry 110 passengers.

Four years later in December 17, 2008, following negotiations between the two countries, Seychelles agreed that the airline increase its flight from four to seven per week with the flexibility to use any type of airline and capacity they want to serve the Seychelles route.

As to what had made the airline take the decision Minister Morgan said talks with the SCAA gave as reasons the continuous loss of money on the Seychelles route after more than eight years’ operation and that the airline plans to use the airbus A319 as corporate jets.

At this point Mr Morgan noted Seychelles’ open policy on aerial transportation which ensures that all airlines without preference have the flexibility to develop and expand in line with the market strength. The policy also ensures that Seychelles remains better connected not only through airlines which directly serve our route but also through other destinations from all five continents through our different codeshare agreements.

“At present Seychelles has more flights coming in per day and per week compared to any period in our country’s civil aviation history,” said Mr Morgan.

He said today Seychelles is seen as a country with the most liberal aerial transport policy among the south west Indian ocean countries and the ministry and SCAA have always maintained a good working relation with Qatar Airways as well as other partners in the aviation sector.

Minister Morgan noted that the airline’s decision to pull out is a commercial one based on profitability figures for the Seychelles route.

He said while the airline has served our route for over eight years it has made considerable contributions to the Seychelles economy , provided employment opportunities for our people and the ministry has taken steps to enter discussion with the airline to find out if its plans for the future include Seychelles and the region.

But Minister Morgan stressed that when an airline has made a decision to suspend its service there is not much a government can do.

He also noted that the service Qatar Airways is providing is bringing considerable benefits to passengers through more choices in airfares, routes, quality and standard of service.

But he stressed that the direct impact of the airline pulling out on the tourism industry will be minimal as there is already a surplus of seats on the Seychelles routes.
“Passengers using Qatar Airways can easily be absorbed by other airlines servicing our route,” Minister Morgan explained.

But he noted that there would be an impact on revenues the SCAA and Air Seychelles collect and this is in terms of landing and ground handling charges as well as a reduction in Seychelles’ visibility on the international scene brought about by the airline.

Minister Morgan explained that the SCAA has initialed 50 air services agreements among which 14 with European countries, which represent our main tourist market but it is important to note that only Germany from the 14 countries is operating a flight service here with its airline Condor.

Mr Morgan said the question to ask is why other airlines are not flying here? He explained that Seychelles, being a destination which is quite far from other main tourist markets, is not being considered a profitable market and we need to change this concept if we want to fill our hotel beds.

He stressed on the need for the tourism industry to remain proactive in its approaches to make Seychelles not only more accessible but more attractive as a tourist destination.

Echoing Vice-President Faure’s recent appeal for the industry to be more united to face challenges, Minister Morgan announced a tourism stakeholders’ meeting soon to boost synergy in the tourism and airline industries.

“We need to analyse the situation and better understand the challenges the two industries are facing and explore the different approaches to ensure they remain viable and profitable,” he said. 




Send your comment :

Name *

Email *

Comment *