SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka, made its inaugural flight from Colombo to Seychelles on Thursday.
The A320 with 66 passengers onboard touched down at the Seychelles’ international airport at Pointe Larue on the eastern coast of the main island, Mahe, at around 10:15 am.
In his welcoming address, the Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Port and Marine, Alain St. Ange, said that the arrival of SriLankan Airlines is an important link in the chain that makes the local tourism industry works.
“It is very important for us to get the best direct air access from key source markets that open the world to Seychelles,” said St. Ange, adding that: “The SriLankan Airlines has a major part to play in the future development of the Seychelles tourism industry.”
SriLankan Airlines replaces Mihin Lanka, which had been flying the Seychelles-Colombo route from November 2013 to October 2016. It will operate four flights per week.
The chief commercial officer of SriLankan Airlines, Siva Ramachandran, said the airline is very much committed to this route which was started by Mihin Lanka and that it sees tremendous potential in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
“We not only see an increase in tourism, but we also see a substantial increase in trade arising from this air link, and traffic flowing both ways as natives of Seychelles can travel to the east,” said Ramachandran.
Minister St. Ange said that with the arrival of SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways expected in December, Seychelles will have two carriers that are part of the oneworld alliance, which brings together 14 of the world’s leading airlines and around 30 other affiliates.
“Air connectivity has its own specificity and challenges at times, but when we work with these groups we get those benefits,” said St. Ange.
The minister for tourism, aviation and port and marine added that locals from Seychelles also stand to benefit.
“One of the important factors today is that many Seychellois travel to Sri Lanka for medical purposes and then on the commercial side, there are many people now trading with Sri Lanka.”
St. Ange said that Sri Lanka has an impressive network and is strong in the Chinese and Indian markets and this will be an added advantage to the Seychelles’ tourism industry, the country’s biggest economic sector.
Also present on the inaugural flight were journalists from China, India and Sri Lanka and according to Ramachandran, this is symbolic of the airline’s commitment to serving huge markets which are available to the SriLankan Airlines.
Source : Seychelles News Agency