Seychelles welcomes inaugural non-stop flight from Tel Aviv | 29 November 2019
The first non-stop flight from Tel Aviv operated by Air Seychelles touched down at the Pointe Larue International Airport yesterday morning with 125 people on board.
Flight HM021 was operated by the modern Airbus A320neo aircraft ‘Veuve’ and commanded by Captain Mervin Sicobo and First Officer Russel Morel while the guests were looked after by cabin manager Mervin Arrisol, cabin senior Kelpha Dailoo including flight attendant Janette Croisée and Laureen Loze.
The plane was welcomed by the traditional water canon salute which was witnessed by key dignitaries, including the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley, government representatives, travel trade members as well as media partners.
To celebrate this momentous occasion Minister Dogley; the chairman of Air Seychelles board, Jean Weeling-Lee; Air Seychelles chief executive Remco Althuis, together with the chief executive of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Garry Albert and Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) chief executive Sherin Francis joined hands to cut the ribbon to mark the start of the new service.
Addressing the guests during the welcoming ceremony, Minister Dogley said: “The launch of the new service between Seychelles and Tel Aviv will further enhance the tourism and economic ties between the two countries, in addition to making a significant contribution towards the growth of tourism in the Seychelles which has been targeted between 3 to 5 per cent for 2019.
“As part of our marketing efforts to bring the Seychelles Islands to the world, we will continue to work with Air Seychelles to build our presence within the Israeli market, to further increase our visibility and establish Seychelles as the preferred holiday destination in the Indian Ocean.”
Minister Dogley also pointed out that opening an addition of this new route to Air Seychelles’ network is very important for Seychelles as it is a very promising route to a prosperous city with around 19 million people which falls just within the regional range that our airline can fly.
He noted that there are lots of interests there to visit Seychelles and so far on this route Air Seychelles does not have to compete with other airlines.
“Seychelles has proved quite popular in Israel from the number of charter flights operated throughout the year. To note, between January and October 2019, a total of 4,394 visitors have travelled to Seychelles from Israel. Now with the establishment of a new air bridge between Israel and Seychelles, we will not only strengthen tourism but business and cultural ties between the two countries,” said Minister Dogley.
He said in addition to building a strong presence in the Israeli market, the start of this new service will make a significant contribution towards the overall growth of tourism in Seychelles which has been targeted to reach between 3 to 5% increase by the end of 2019.
Air Seychelles’ CEO Remco Althuis said: “We are tremendously excited to have added Tel Aviv on our network and we are delighted to welcome the first guests on our new scheduled non-stop flight from Tel Aviv to Seychelles today. Being on board this first flight which was 100% full with 125 passengers, the maximum capacity for this route, I must say that since we made the announcement to fly on the Tel Aviv route, the feedback from the Israeli market has been very positive.” He noted that the flight was smooth and comfortable and the experience was great, something which a few excited visitors from the flight on their first visit to Seychelles confirmed after landing from the over six-hour flight.
“The extremely strong bookings, exceeding the 90% load factor for the upcoming two months has definitely surpassed our expectations, and we are confident that with the support of our partners both locally and abroad, we will continue to bring more visitors from Israel to the Seychelles,” he added.
Although most of the visitors will be coming from Israel, Mr Althuis has invited Seychellois citizens to consider visiting Tel Aviv. Having just spent three days there himself, Mr Althuis has described Tel Aviv as “having so much history to discover both in the old city of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv itself is just a cool and vibrant city with an abundance of fresh and delicious Mediterranean dishes, something for everyone’s taste”.
He also noted that Tel Aviv is only five hours away from major European capitals.
“The successful arrival of Flight HM021 would have not been possible without the support of our stakeholders and colleagues at Air Seychelles. I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have been heavily involved in this project including the STB, SCAA, department of Foreign Affairs, travel trade partners as well as our dedicated staff members for the effort and invaluable support
The flight between Tel Aviv and the Seychelles operated on Wednesdays has been carefully timed to provide business and leisure traveller’s seamless onward connections to Mauritius and Johannesburg.
Mr Althuis noted that Air Seychelles will operate more flights during holiday seasons like in January, around Easter time, around the major Jewish holiday of Passover.
“We will also be supporting the local business community because we expect to be able to transport around two tonnes of fresh tuna on our flights to Tel Aviv once we get everything going,” noted Mr Althuis.
To conclude the ceremony at the Seychelles International Airport’s VIP lounge yesterday morning, Minister Dogley and other key officials cut a cake and proposed a toast to the success of the new venture.
Meanwhile on Tuesday Air Seychelles and Beachcomber Hotel hosted a cake competition at the Estella – Master Class in Pastry, Chocolate and Bakery School in Tel Aviv ahead of the start of yesterday’s inaugural flight.
14 bakers from across Israel took part in the competition which was quite tough for the judges to choose an amazing cake baked and decorated in the flavours of Seychelles. At the end of the event the panel of judges managed to select the winning cake and awarded the winner, Liraz Malka, two return tickets to Seychelles and Mauritius for travel with Air Seychelles inclusive of accommodation at Beachcomber Resort in Mauritius.
The delicious winning cake was also showcased at the inaugural event of flight HM022 upon arrival at the Ben Gurion Airport.
Flight HM022 which departed Seychelles International Airport at 5.30pm on Wednesday received a fantastic welcome including water canon salute upon landing at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Operated by Captain Christophe Larue and First Officer Rajesh Nair, the flight was also supported by cabin manager Gill Thyroomooldy, cabin senior Hansel Agathine as well as flight attendants Yanick Commettant and Rebecca Morel who looked after the guests onboard the aircraft. The team also had the opportunity to host the Israeli ambassador, Oded Joseph, who was honoured to join this special flight following his visit to Seychelles.
To mark this historical milestone, the ambassador also joined the Air Seychelles team upon arrival in Israel for the ribbon cutting ceremony and to celebrate the departure of the first flight from Tel Aviv to Seychelles.
By Marie-Anne Lepathy