KENYA AIRWAYS TO FINALLY ADD THIRD FLIGHT
While on the islands opportunity arose to also discuss air connections to and from the African mainland with my hosts at the Seychelles Tourist Board, which are grossly under represented compared to now double daily flights by Emirates from Dubai on A340’s and daily flights from Doha on Qatar Airways using the A320. The Seychelles Tourist Board CEO during a meeting today in fact stressed the fact that arrivals to the archipelago from the African mainland were doing well but future growth was limited by the number of seats available between Nairobi and Mahe, the absence of any flights between Tanzania and the Seychelles and also between other Eastern and Southern African countries with the exception of South Africa, where Air Seychelles flies to Johannesburg. Precision Air had expressed interest to start flights to Mahe from Dar es Salaam, just as soon as their fleet expansion programme for jet aircraft has gone underway, but this maybe some time away, leaving the main connections from the Eastern African side of the continent to ‘The Pride of Africa’ for the time being.
It did however emerge during the talk that Kenya Airways was apparently set to add a third flight per week between Nairobi and Mahe from mid of this year onwards, helping the tourism industries of both the Seychelles as well as of Eastern Africa to promote twin centre holidays as well as bring more citizens of the respective countries to make visits to ‘the other side’ across the vast expanses of the Indian Ocean.
IRISH HOSPITALITY STUDENTS ON EXCHANGE VISIT TO SEYCHELLES
As many as 24 students of hotel management courses at the Shannon College in Ireland have arrived in Mahe under an agreement to host student exchanges between the Seychelles Tourism Academy and the Shannon College of Hospitality Management. They will be deployed across several top class resorts where they can gain practical experience and on the job knowledge, for a period of three months, counting against their study requirements back in Ireland.
At the same time it was also learned that 15 Seychellois students will proceed to Ireland later this year where they will study for advanced diplomas in hotel management, a course STA has for years been teaching very successfully.
The Seychelles Tourism Academy has in recent years established itself as a leading hotel and tourism school in Africa and the building of a new campus, which recently began, is sure to propel the institute to yet greater heights, satisfying the demand for a skilled workforce by new resorts opening up across the archipelago as the tourism industry continues to boom.
JETLINK DROPS HARGEISA – PROMPTS SOMALILAND REACTION
Jetlink, one of Kenya’s privately owned airlines, has reportedly halted operations between Nairobi and Hargeisa, the capital of the selfproclaimed region of Somaliland, in the face of low passenger numbers and for added ‘operational reasons’. Last year East African Safari Air Express also withdrew from the same route, eventually halting all traffic, before being taken over by Fly 540 Aviation.
The withdrawal of Jetlink is now leaving Fly 540 as the only scheduled airline to serve the route, which has according to a source in Nairobi caused an angry reaction by the government of Somaliland.
The ministry overseeing air transport in Somaliland has served the Kenyan airline with notice now that their traffic rights had been cancelled as a result of stopping flights causing an additional spat between the parties over allegations from Hargeisa that suggested ‘lies had been peddled’ – something which could not be independently verified however other than confirming that Jetlink was definitely off that route.
Watch this space for regular aviation updates from the East African region.
SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL – THE SEYCHELLES’ INTERNATIONAL REGATTA
When talking ‘regatta’ the mind is quick to conjure up pictures of several dozens of boats or yachts lining up, awaiting the horn sounded by the regatta officials and then swiftly crossing the starting line en masse, sails fluttering in the wind and soon turning into distant white specks.
The international regatta in the Seychelles, sponsored amongst others by national carrier ‘Air Seychelles’, in contrast is limited to a maximum of 20 entries only and the 12 participants this year came to the archipelago’s main port in Victoria with 40 – 70 ft catamarans to race each other between the scenic inner islands, traversing the Indian Ocean around Mahe before also touching La Digue and Praslin and eventually crossing the final finishing line at Eden Island at the end of the 7th race, spanning over the week. The annual event has been described as ‘semi professional’ where ‘amateurs’ measure themselves against true professionals, although at this level of the sport ‘semi’ surely does reality little justice as even the so called amateurs train and sail relentlessly in order to hone their skills and get the best out of their boats and crews.
Saturday 21st of May will see the opening ceremony held at Eden House, while during the day the skippers and participants will have received their briefings and done a spinnaker speed test to ascertain the rating of the boards. Amongst the participants this year are illustrious names which reportedly have a ring to them amongst the global sailing fraternity.
Newcomer to the Seychelles International Regatta Loick Peyron has just won the Barcelona World Race in April and is amongst the best known skippers in France, reportedly eyeing the next qualifying round of the America’s Cup where the ultimate challenger will be determined. He will measure his skills against Frenchman Francois Gabart who is the 2010 French Solo Offshore champion but both of them will have to contend with the aspirations of an all ladies team on the ‘Heineken’, skippered by Samantha Davies, determined to put up a spirited fight for the overall prize.
This correspondent will be able to cover some of the races and will file additional updates in coming days, reporting live from the Creole paradise islands of the Seychelles, truly ‘Another World’.