AIR SEYCHELLES TRANSFORMATION BUTTERFLY OR MOTH
With the last European service of HM now withdrawn, January 10th having been the watershed day for Air Seychelles, the downsizing, management would probably prefer the word rightsizing of Air Seychelles continues.
Besides the domestic services to a number of islands, where operations continue as usual and without problems, the airlines B 767-300s are now largely under employed as only the services to Mauritius and Johannesburg continue to operate. It was in fact learned that two of the aircraft will commence final return to lessor checks as required under the respective lease agreements, before they will be handed back to ILFC in the coming weeks. The remaining B 767-300 will continue to stay in service until later in the year a new B737-800 is due to be delivered to Air Seychelles, also by ILFC on a long term lease. The single aisle aircraft is expected to fly to Johannesburg and other destinations on the African mainland and across the Indian Ocean islands, though no final decisions appears to have been made as yet in this regard with various evaluations on the viability of new routes still ongoing.
Nearly 20 percent of all Air Seychelles staff are being made redundant, which will literally include all who were deployed in London, Paris, Milan and Rome joining their former workmates from Singapore. Ground personnel and administration staff too are said to be amongst those now having to leave the airline.
Independent airline analysts were however swift to point out that this can only be an intermediate step as any airline with eventually only one jet aircraft and a few turboprops on domestic routes would not be able to sustain over 700 employees, a challenge the companys top management is still working on. More redundancies are likely to be announced in a more compassionate way, step by step rather than in one fell swoop, something apparently encouraged by the government which is also the sole shareholder in the national airline.
Notably has the airline also agreed with the Gulf carriers flying to the Seychelles, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, to hold another round of recruitment talks, aimed to offer those made redundant now the option to find new employment elsewhere. This exercise will take place at the airlines training centre and run until Thursday inclusive.
Meanwhile are talks ongoing with Etihad, the national airline of Abu Dhabi and apparently Air Seychelles choice partner for an extensive range of code share agreements, which would be operated under dual flight numbers, to comprehensively cover the European markets but also destinations from across the global Etihad network.
The ultimate question for Air Seychelles now is what will come of this massive transformation when it is finally complete will a shining bright and beautiful new butterfly emerge from it or will it be a dull and ugly moth? Watch this space for the latest aviation news updates from the Indian Ocean islands and from across Eastern Africa.