Private-sector startup airline Seychelles International Airways (SIA) has announced that it will commence operations on September 10 as a cargo-only carrier, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will initiate its services with a four-engined Airbus A340-600, it announced in a press conference, the Seychelles News Agency reported. The airline also revealed its logo: a stylised Seychelles blue pigeon (a species indigenous to the archipelagic country).
“We are not focusing on passenger flights at the moment unless there is a demand or a chartered flight, which will follow all procedures of the health department,” said SIA CE Robert Marie. “We are focusing on bringing cargo into the country as we feel and have evidence that Seychelles needs cargo.”
The new airline is backed by $20-million to $50-million in funding from unnamed local and international investors. In the long-term, it desires to develop intercontinental passenger operations from Mahe (the Seychelles’ capital). Such operations were, in fact, its original intent. “[S]ince Air Seychelles is not doing long-haul, I don’t see any competition with regards to that apart from other carriers coming in,” he pointed out.
(Air Seychelles is the island country’s national flag carrier, 60%-owned by the Seychelles government and 40% by Etihad Airways. According to the Seychelles News Agency, in addition to domestic routes it operates medium-haul international routes, including to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel and to Mumbai International Airport in India. These routes, currently suspended due to Covid-19, were operated by the airline’s two Airbus A320-200N single-aisle airliners. Prior to the pandemic, it had been considering adding a route to Perth International Airport in Australia, which would have been operated by Airbus A321-200NX(LR) aircraft.)
SIA plans to institute intercontinental passenger flights once the pandemic has passed, but it has released no timeline for this. The airline plans to use Mahe as its hub, and did identify Frankfurt International Airport as a possible destination.
“As our base will be here in Seychelles, it will serve as a hub,” affirmed Marie. “To develop the hub, as an example, we can fly out to Frankfurt, Germany and pick up passengers there and bring them to Seychelles and from Seychelles to another destination.”