Monday, March 18, 2013

■ SEYCHELLES: Air Seychelles officially announces $1mln profit for FY2012/2013.

Air SeychellesFollowing three years of losses, Air Seychelles (HM), the national airline of the Seychelles, today officially reported a net profit of USD1million for its 2012/2013 Financial Year. The positive result comes just 12 months after Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways (EY) acquired a 40 per cent stake in the airline and was awarded a five year management contract. The result beats Etihad's original expectations in which the Gulf carrier projected Air Seychelles to turn a profit albeit within the first 24 months of operation.

The Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, Cramer Ball, said: 
In the first instance, this meant looking at the cost-base, and then stripping down the business right across the airline’s operations to find the right shape and size for our national carrier.

“We introduced strict fiscal control in parallel with business process re-engineering to make our operation more efficient. We are a very different business today.”
Air Seychelles / Air Berlin CodeshareHe attributed this success to leveraging the economies of scale, made possible through the equity alliance with Etihad Airways, which entailed the renegotiation of contracts for catering, ground handling and in-flight entertainment, and the conclusion of joint contracts for fuel, uniforms and stationery supplies, all of which improved service and significantly reduced costs.
“Our first focus was on a new network plan which could support the hugely important tourist sector in Seychelles more effectively with good connections and broader choice for visitors to the archipelago.”
To optimise the schedule and enhance connectivity with its partner airlines, the Air Seychelles’ network was expanded through 19 codeshare destinations with Etihad Airways, opening up key European markets, and with the introduction of four flights a week to Abu Dhabi.

The network expansion was made possible by renewed investment in fleet. During the year, the airline introduced an Airbus A330-200 and wet-leased an Etihad Airways’ Airbus A320 on the Mauritius route.  A second A330-200 will enter service to Hong Kong this month, providing increased access to the lucrative Asian leisure market.
A recently announced codeshare with airberlin will expand the island carrier’s network throughout Europe.

Staffing-wise, a "people-program" was introduced to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the company but which ultimately resulted in a down-sizing exercise which cut the workforce to 550 staff.

Air Seychelles has launched training programs, both in the Seychelles and at Etihad Airways’ Training Academy in Abu Dhabi, with 136 cabin crew undergoing training in Abu Dhabi and 29 pilots having been trained on the Airbus A330-200.

An ongoing program selects Seychellois candidates for the career development programs in Abu Dhabi.

Established in 1978, Air Seychelles now has more than 200 domestic flights a week and a strong domestic charter business. The airline employs 550 people, 25 per cent of whom have worked with the company for more than 15 years. Forty per cent of the staff have worked at Air Seychelles for 10 years or more.

In March 2012, Etihad invested USD20million into the Indian Ocean carrier with the Seychelles government providing an additional USD20million. It also guaranteed a USD25million loan to meet working capital requirements and fund network development.