An Aeroflot Boeing 777 touched down at the Seychelles International Airport this morning, marking the first scheduled direct service between Moscow and the Mahé Island.
The inaugural eight-hour 35 minutes flight was hailed as the ‘great come-back’ as Aeroflot is returning to the islands after 17 years.
The flight was greeted on arrival by the Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, Minister of Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Anthony Derjacques and other officials from the tourism and aviation fields.
A total of 402 passengers disembarked to a typical Creole ambience as local musicians and dancers provided lively entertainment after the plane had gone through the symbolic water canon salute.
The landmark flight opens the way to twice-weekly flights between the two countries, and Russian travellers will now be able to fly non-stop to the island destination.
The return flight will now leave Mahé tonight at 11.05 p.m. with a flying time of 8 hours 50 minutes. Following the official cutting of ribbons, Minister Radegonde expressed his delight at Aeroflot for coming back and re-establishing air links between the two countries.
He saluted the airline for this great show of confidence in the destination during a time that had seen innumerable route cuts in the industry.
“The resumption of direct flights from Moscow to Victoria testifies to the confidence of the Russian national carrier in our tourism industry. Seychelles is a much sought-after destination in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Russian market has always been a profitable one for Seychelles, featuring in the top 7 destinations every year. It is a high-yield market, with an average stay of 9 to 13 nights. But visitor arrivals have been impeded by the lack of direct flights from Moscow, “he said.
Minister Radegonde described the touching down of the aircraft as a beautiful and joyous moment for the country, adding the return of the flight will help in the recovery of the Seychelles tourism industry.
Minister Radegonde noted that the Russian market was a profitable one and said the direct flight will help to accelerate and grow it further.
“With the introduction of twice-weekly flights by Aeroflot, I am hopeful that we can not only reclaim, but increase, our share of the Russian and the CIS market. It is within our ability to do so. We can do it if we all work together as a team – government and the private sector together.”
Aeroflot now joins four other airlines, which have resumed flights to Seychelles, whereas six others are expected back between April and October 2021.
Aeroflot also expressed their joy to be back on the Seychelles’ route.
“We are very proud to be the very first European airline to come back to Seychelles in 2021 with a regular service between Moscow and Mahé, which is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque and authentic travel destinations across the globe,” said the airline’s Marketing Director, Anton Myagkov.
“The new Seychelles’ service truly highlights Aeroflot’s extensive route network. As a global full-service airline, we perfectly match our premium onboard product and in-flight service with the exclusive touristic product of the Seychelles islands.”
Mr Myagkov added that the current passengers’ demand for this service already exceeds all their expectations, causing a sellout of the first flight in just a few days. “This has enabled Aeroflot to increase the operating frequency to two flights per week starting from Sunday 09th April,” he said.
Commenting on the new flight, the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Sherin Francis, also present to welcome the Aeroflot flight, said the news of the return of Aeroflot has been met with much enthusiasm by the Seychelles trade.
“We are pleased to welcome back this new service to our shores. Russia is one of our top originating markets and we expect this new route and direct link to expand our reach in the market and that region,” she said.
She added that the increased seat capacity is significant and underlines the airline’s confidence in the Seychelles’ product, which is a highly sought-after destination.