Wednesday, October 10, 2012

■ SEYCHELLES: Etihad partnership starting to pay off as Air Seychelles quarterly revenues up 23%.

Air SeychellesAir Seychelles (HM) has announced Q3 revenues of USD$13.8 million, up 23% on Q2, as the airline's restructuring programme, initiated in February of this year, took effect in the drive towards profitability for 2012.  The growth in revenues was led by a 51% quarter-on-quarter increase in passengers, up from 53,066 to 79,887, as seat factors rose from 43% to 60%.  Air Seychelles’ management team is confident that the airline will achieve its target of profitability in 2012, marking a major turnaround after several years of heavy losses.

Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: 
Cramer Ball
Cramer Ball (AA)
The scale of the task in turning around this company has been significant. There is a fantastic business here based on enthusiastic and committed people, but it needed a more effective commercial focus.  Working together, we have been able to bring that new focus to bear.  “In this quarter, we have started to see the results. We are not just attracting more passengers but we are seeing higher yields on all our routes. Our costs are falling quickly, as new efficiencies come into play, and we are now running ahead of budget in our cost-cutting programme.” 
Mr Ball said the positive impact of cooperation with shareholders Etihad Airways (EY) and the Seychelles Government was really starting to be felt. In January 2012, Etihad Airways took a 40 % shareholding in Air Seychelles and has a five-year management contract.   Flights to Abu Dhabi have increased to four per week, with onward destinations rising from 57 to 375 per week, opening up hundreds of new markets for quick and easy connectivity to the Seychelles. 
As we add capacity back into our fleet and build up network connectivity,” said Mr Ball, “We are setting the foundations for long term, sustainable profitability, giving the Seychelles the national airline it deserves.” 
The number of domestic passengers carried over the last three months also surged, up 30% to 43,949 compared to the previous quarter.  This included 17,215 residents flying locally with the airline, an increase of 27%, while the number of international visitors on domestic routes jumped by 32% to 26,734.  These increases were supported by a 14% increase in domestic flights with 3,283 domestic flights to Praslin, Bird Island, Denis Island, Fregate Island and D'Arros.  

Highlights during the quarter included: 
Air Seychelles' Domestic Network
  • The successful introduction of the first Airbus A330-200 into the fleet; a second is to follow early in 2013. 
  • The launch of Air Seychelles’ new in-flight product and service on international routes. 
  • The integration of Air Seychelles Plus into Etihad Guest, bringing 18,000 members into the industry’s leading frequent flier programme, offering them a wide range of new benefits. 
  • The introduction of 19 new codeshare destinations, in addition to the network plan which has seen such improved connectivity through Abu Dhabi. 
  • Continued development of Air Seychelles international sales channels, through the worldwide Etihad Airways commercial network.  Air Seychelles signed an agreement with the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) which will help stimulate training opportunities for Seychellois nationals and open the door for students wishing to develop a career in aviation.  Another wide-ranging training programme for Air Seychelles has also been introduced. 
The Etihad Airways Career Development Programme uses the state-of-the-art Training Academy in Abu Dhabi, and has achieved results including:  
  • Sixty five cabin crew fully trained, with a further 60 new recruits to be trained by year's end.  Forty two of this second wave have been hired already, with the first 12 currently being trained in Abu Dhabi. 
  • Twenty three pilots have been fully trained on the Airbus A330-200, with another two currently in training. 
  • Seven Seychellois nationals, six of whom were already with Air Seychelles, have started the Cadet Engineer Programme. 
  • Two Seychellois nationals, one of whom was already with Air Seychelles, have entered the Graduate Development Management Programme. 
  • Two Seychellois nationals have started the Cadet Pilot Programme.
Cramer Ball said the Career Development Programme was a signal of Air Seychelles’ commitment to future growth and investment: “In the early part of our restructuring programme, we had to take some difficult decisions, reducing headcount and operations to more efficient and sustainable levels.
Now that we have established a sound basis, we are committed to investing in our people so that we can build a truly world class airline.  “We are now moving forward positively as a business and we are confident that we will achieve profitability for the financial year to 31 December 2012, if market conditions remain as forecast.