The Seychelles Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Minister Joel Morgan, has received an official letter dated June 10, 2013 from the Chairman of the Qatari Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Abdulaziz Mohamed Al Noaimi, confirming that “with great regret…as of September 1, 2013, Qatar Airways will suspend the services between Doha and Seychelles as, unfortunately and notwithstanding all marketing efforts, the route has never become financially viable.”
In the letter to the Minister, the Chairman of the Qatari Civil Aviation Authority, however, noted that they will continue to monitor the market and expressed their hope that with the continuous expansion of Qatar Airways, the conditions may become more favorable for them to re-launch their operations into Seychelles.
In his letter of reply to Mr. Noaimi, Minister Morgan expressed the government’s regret on Qatar Airways’ decision to suspend its services between Doha and Seychelles but noted that the government was “cognizant that Qatar Airways has done its level best to ensure that the route Doha – Seychelles and vice versa became financially viable,” and it was unfortunate that this had not been possible.
Minister Morgan further stated in his letter, “It is heart-warming to note, however, that your good offices will continue to monitor the market very closely with a view to restart operations, should the conditions become more favorable in the future. You have my assurances, in my capacity as the Minister of Transport, that the government of Seychelles will continue to work hard to further enhance the quality of our tourism product, with the aim to grow the number of visitors to our shores.” He also reiterated that the government remains committed to continue to strengthen the working relationship with Qatar Airways, as Seychelles seeks to find ways to welcome the airline back to Seychelles and facilitate the re-launching of its operations.
It should be noted that a first meeting chaired by the Minister to address air transport and tourism concerns, was held last Friday, June 7, 2013 together with his colleague ministers, Minister Pierre Laporte, the Minister responsible for Finance, Trade and Investment, and Minister Alain St. Ange, the Minister for Tourism and Culture. The meeting which was also attended by the Principal Secretary for Transport, Mr. Terence Mondon; the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs. Sherin Renaud; the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. David Savy and Mr. Gilbert Faure, respectively; the Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt; and the Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, Mr. Cramer Ball, providing an opportunity for crucial issues affecting Seychelles air transport and tourism industry to be discussed.
The strategic meeting was held with the objective of discussing ways to develop synergies between the transport and tourism ministries and affiliate bodies, with the aim of enhancing the performance of the Seychelles’ tourism and air transport industries, passenger load factors onboard aircraft, as well as hotel bed occupancy rates, among other emerging issues. Some of the key points noted were the worrying low aircraft load factors, the challenges that exist locally which are affecting the attractiveness and competitiveness of Seychelles as a holiday destination, among others.
Among the key recommendations made to build upon the synergies between all concerned and to fully and effectively address the concerns of the two most sensitive sectors in Seychelles, it was agreed as a first step that a meeting is held with the tourism trade to discuss how Seychelles as a package destination could be brought to more affordable levels and, in the process, improve on its attractiveness to foreign visitors. A monthly meeting was also agreed to be held between the Ministers of Transport, Finance and Tourism, together with affiliate bodies, to review and act on the recommendations made by the trade.