Air Seychelles welcomes ‘Veuve’, first A320neo in Africa | 03 August 2019
Seychelles’ national airline, Air Seychelles, has become the first Airbus A320neo operator in the Indian Ocean and Africa following the A320neo successful delivery yesterday afternoon.
The aircraft is also the first unit equipped with CFM’s new generation LEAP-1A engines to be operated on the continent, making it more fuel and cost efficient.
Named Veuve after the endemic Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, the airline’s new A320neo touched down at the Seychelles International Airport at around 1.10pm and was welcomed by a ceremonial water-cannon salute.
Witnessing the landmark event were the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, principal secretary for civil aviation, ports and marine Alain Renaud, various government officials, stakeholders and members of the travel trade.
Veuve is being leased from CDB Aviation, a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing, at a sum of $300,000 per month for a period of 12 years.
It is a single aircraft comprising 12 business class and 156 economy class seats, and is expected to enable Air Seychelles to increase the capacity on its current routes as well as its upcoming new route to Tel Aviv.
Onboard the newly delivered aircraft were Air Seychelles’ chief executive Remco Althuis; chief operations officer, Sandy Benoiton; CBD Aviation’s head of commercial for Africa, Europe and Middle-East, Peter Goodman; Airbus head of airline marketing for the Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, Joep Ellers; Airbus sales director, Marino Modena as well as key members of Air Seychelles’ management team.
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, Veuve was also blessed by Father David Alcindor.
The ferry flight departed Hamburg, Germany on August 1 in the evening commanded by Captain Nicole Chang-Leng and First Officer Steven Jasmin and made a stopover in Abu Dhabi before proceeding to Seychelles, under the command of Hervé Morel and First Officer Samuel Lautée.
However the flight, which was expected at the Seychelles International Airport at around 9.45am yesterday, was delayed by three hours and instead arrived at the airport at 1.10pm following an emergency landing back in Abu Dhabi.
“While we were ascending there was an indication in the cockpit that there was smoke in a cargo hold which was persistent and the pilot decided to turn on the extinguisher and return back,” recounted Mr Althuis.
“The firefighters inspected the aircraft and found that there was no fire onboard, but it took a while to go through the process for the administration of paperwork and new approval, that’s why we had this three hour delay but it was purely a standard procedure in this case.”
Air Seychelles expects to undertake a thorough investigation in the matter.
In his speech to mark the occasion, Mr Althuis stated that the arrival of the A320neo marks a new beginning as Air Seychelles writes a new chapter in its history book.
“This new aircraft is the integral part of a five-year transformation plan; we focus on regional network and we do so with new neo technology and stronger engines which gives us a massive improvement.”
Mr Althuis further stated that the A320neo will allow Air Seychelles to increase the capacity on its network while delivering significant fuel savings and reducing the operating costs.
Describing the latest technology available onboard the plane, Mr Althuis made note of the seyStrem wireless inflight entertainment which is new addition.
On his part, PS Renaud remarked that the arrival of the A320neo marks a critical stage in Air Seychelles’ transformation plan and further highlighted the symbolical representation of the aircraft’s name, Veuve.
“Veuve was once critically endangered and we, as a nation, have taken care of this bird and now it has a brighter future. The citizens are nurturing its survival and it is thriving. The Paradise Flycatcher needs us as much as we need them and so too is it for the Air Seychelles.”
“With 32 more seats it means that Air Seychelles can bring more tourists to our islands. It’s more fuel efficient and this also mirrors our sustainability goals as an island […] our airline is now poised to develop and to thrive like the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher,” PS Renaud added.
The airline embarked on a strategic transformation plan in 2018 to restructure its business and safeguard the long-term profitability and sustainability, wherein it focused its reach to routes in the region such as Johannesburg, Mumbai and Mauritius.
It terminated its flights to Europe and the Airbus A330s left the fleet as part of the restructuring programme.
Air Seychelles will be swopping one of its Airbus A320ceo in May 2020 for yet another A320neo jet as it continues with its transformative process.