Seychelles welcomed another new airline this week, only two days after Turkish Airlines landed at its international airport for the first time. This morning, Sri Lankan Airlines made its maiden flight to Seychelles International Airport.
As customary with all inaugural flights landing at the Seychelles International Airport, the airbus received a water cannon salute upon arrival.
Present to meet the crew and passengers disembarking the aircraft were the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Alain St.Ange, high commissioner of Sri Lanka Tikiri Gunathilake, principal secretary for tourism Anne Lafortune and for civil aviation, ports and marine Garry Albert, chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board Sherin Francis and of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) Gilbert Faure, chairperson of SCAA Captain David Savy and Sri Lankan Airlines chief commercial officer Siva Ramachandran and other officials from Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
The flight which will depart from Colombo, Sri Lanka will replace all flights previously operated by Mihin Lanka, with operations to Seychelles scheduled for four times weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays using an Airbus 321 aircraft with seating capacity for approximately 169.
Sri Lankan Airlines was previously known as Air Lanka and is based in Colombo. It is Sri Lanka’s national airline and operates a network of regional services within the Asian continent and the subcontinent as well as the Middle East and Europe.
Speaking at the ceremony held at the VIP lounge this morning, Minister St.Ange said it is an important link in this chain that makes the tourism industry of Seychelles work.
“It is needed for us to get the best direct air access from key source markets and those that open the world to Seychelles. Sri Lankan Airlines have a major role to play in the future development of the Seychelles tourism industry,” he added.
“If we have press from China, India and Sri Lanka here with us today, it is proof that Sri Lanka is a good stopping point for people coming to Seychelles from China and India which are considered as an important source market for Seychelles.”
When Mihin Lanka landed in Seychelles, one point made was that this would pave the way for Sri Lankan Airlines to come to our shores, Minister St.Ange added.
“Today we are happy that this has been achieved, this has happened because Seychelles as a tourism destination is today seen and is relevant in the world of tourism. This tie between airlines and the destination itself works when the destination is relevant in the world of tourism.”
“Bringing Sri Lankan Airlines to Seychelles is proof that there is commercial sense for you to be here. And we want to assure you that the SCAA and STB will work with you to ensure that the plane coming here is a success and a winning situation for our tourism industry, for Sri Lankan Airlines and for Seychelles,” he said.
Mr Ramachandran said it is true that Mihin Lanka initiated this route but Sri Lankan Airlines refined it further with a full-service operation.
“We stand completely to this route. We not only see the increase in tourism but also in trade arriving out of this air link and will allow people from Seychelles to travel towards the east is one of the main reasons
We see tremendous potential in Seychelles. I reiterate the commitment of Sri Lankan Airlines to growing tourism in Seychelles, Mr Ramachandran.
To mark this auspicious occasion, a special cake was cut at the end of the ceremony.
Sri Lankan Airlines operates to 94 destinations in 44 countries from its hub in Colombo providing connections from Seychelles to several destinations in the Far East including Tokyo, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kumming and extensive network to the Indian Sub-continent.