Seychelles welcomes back commercial flights | 03 August 2020
By Elsie Pointe
The Seychelles airspace reopened to commercial passenger flights on Saturday August 1, four months after the country closed its border late March on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first flight to land at the Seychelles International Airport was Emirates flight EK705 from Dubai at around 6.30am with 170 passengers onboard comprising both visitors and returning residents.
Only cargo flights were allowed to operate during the border closure as well as chartered flights and private jets since June 1, 2020.
Present to witness the arrival were tourism minister Didier Dogley, principal secretary for tourism Anne Lafortune and chief executive of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) Garry Albert.
With the strict safety protocols put in place by the department of health and the SCAA, the passengers were authorised to disembark in groups of 30.
This was so as not to create a large crowd in the arrival area and overwhelm the immigration and airport staff.
All staff members were equipped with the necessary personal protective gear and the passengers’ bags were thoroughly disinfected before being dispatched to the baggage carousel.
Members of the media were not allowed to interact or be in close proximity with the arrivals.
Outside in the arrival terminal were a number of representatives from the destination management companies (DMCs) and hotels as well as some taxi drivers who were waiting for the visitors.
It is to be noted that it is now mandatory to wear a face mask when on airport premises.
In a press communiqué, Emirates airline notes that it is glad to resume operations to the Seychelles where it has been flying to for 15 years, adding that its return “further cements our commitment to the country and our customers”.
Emirates has implemented a comprehensive set of measures at every step of the customer journey to ensure the safety of its customers and employees on the ground and in the air, including the distribution of complimentary hygiene kits containing masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes to all customers.
Emirates airline has also revised its booking policies to offer customers more flexibility and confidence to plan their travel.
Given all of the safety procedures, it took a while for passengers to come out to the terminal where they were welcomed with a local band.
Minister Dogley noted that he was satisfied with how the airport staff and passengers observed measures such as social distancing, wearing of masks and practicing good hygiene.
"Things are going slow because this is the first time but gradually as the staff get to keep on practicing the process, they will able to move a little bit faster. Most importantly, we want everything to be done correctly," said Minister Dogley.
He explained that all of the stakeholders, including the tourism department, SCAA and immigration department, will meet early this week for a debriefing session on the reopening of the airport.
Other commercial flights which arrived during the weekend were an Air Seychelles flight from Mauritius which touched down on Saturday evening.
Ethiopian airline will also feature on the Seychelles International Airport’s commercial flight schedule with weekly flights every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday as from tomorrow, August 4.