The airline’s inaugural flight on its Airbus A320 landed at Bandaranaike International with 110 passengers onboard. (Air Seychelles)
Seychelles’ national carrier, Air Seychelles, started operating twice weekly flights to Colombo after it made its inaugural flight on Tuesday, June 20th.
The airline operates the twice-weekly flights from Seychelles to Colombo on Tuesdays and Saturdays and returns on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The airline’s inaugural flight on its Airbus A320, which landed at Bandaranaike International, had 110 passengers onboard.
In a press statement from the airline, Sandy Benoiton, acting chief executive of Air Seychelles, said that Colombo is one of the largest markets not served by a nonstop flight from the Indian Ocean region.
“Seychellois love coming to Sri Lanka for a number of reasons, with tourism and medical being at the top of the list. Additionally, there is a large number of Sri Lankans working in Seychelles, primarily in hospitality and construction, all in need of easier access to their home country,” he explained.
Benoiton added that “currently, to fly between Seychelles and Sri Lanka, travellers must go via one of the Gulf carriers, which can take 10-12 hours of journey time, and at considerable expense. Our nonstop flight allows for a journey of approximately four hours in total.”
|Benoiton said tourism and medical are at the top of the list for Seychellois travelling to Sri Lanka. (Air Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY|
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean previously had a direct link with Sri Lanka. After the two countries signed an air services agreement in April 2013, it allowed both Mihin Lanka and SriLankan Airlines to operate on the Seychelles-Colombo route.
Mihin Lanka operated the service from November 2013 to October 2016 but then was replaced by SriLankan Airlines. The airline stopped its flight to Seychelles when the island nation shut down its airport in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and returned when it reopened in December 2021.
SriLankan Airlines stopped its flights to Seychelles in December 2022.
Among the 110 passengers on board the inaugural flight were tourism officials – Sherin Francis, principal secretary for tourism, and Bernadette Willemin, director for destination marketing.
To celebrate the occasion, the tourism department, in partnership with Air Seychelles, hosted a trade event on June 21st.
Tourism Seychelles said that Francis and Willemin “unveiled the boundless possibilities the newfound connection offers, bridging the gap to previously untapped markets via the Colombo route.”
It added that “the partnership not only serves as a strategic move to unlock markets that were once challenging to access, but it also provides an opportunity for Seychelles to learn from Sri Lanka’s best practices and elevate its own tourism industry to greater heights.”
A travel trade event and dinner reception were hosted in collaboration with Tourism Seychelles with the participation of top travel agencies in Sri Lanka, and South Africa among others.
According to Air Seychelles, the Colombo service will also offer over 20+ connections through a future partnership with SriLankan Airlines.
“Once fully implemented, this will allow for a convenient one-stop connection to numerous destinations in India, Bangladesh, and top tourist spots such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo as well as highly requested Australian cities, namely Melbourne and Sydney,” said the airline.