Seychelles to launch Hong Kong air link
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Air Seychelles will launch three services a week between Hong Kong and the Seychelles in February, making it one of the first airlines to inaugurate flights to the city in the new year.
Hong Kong International Airport has welcomed five new airlines so far this year. They include Air Astana which had its inaugural flight from Astana, Kazakhstan in August. Four others - Mongolian Airlines, Japan's Peach Aviation, AirAsia Philippines and Taiwan's Far East Air Transport - began flying to Hong Kong from various Asian cities in the first half of this year.
Cramer Ball, Air Seychelles' chief executive, said the airline would use a 254-seat Airbus A330-200 for the service.
"We have agreed on a memorandum of understanding" with the Hong Kong authorities, he said, adding that final approvals were expected soon.
Air Seychelles had planned to start services between Mahe, the main island of the Indian Ocean nation and Beijing, but changed the destination to Hong Kong. Ball indicated this was done because of Hong Kong's strong links to Southeast Asia.
"The Seychellois love to shop. But there are no links to Southeast Asia [from Beijing]," he said.
Ball expected "strong demand to the Seychelles from Hong Kong and the region" especially as there was visa-free access from Hong Kong.
Known as a honeymoon destination, Ball said the Seychelles offered wider tourism options than as a getaway for newlyweds. This included deep-sea sport fishing for marlin and tuna, diving and hiking. Bird Island, about 100km from the capital, also lures eco-tourists with its extensive bird life.
"The Seychelles is a different destination compared with the Maldives or Mauritius," Ball said. "Hong Kong is really important in our future.
"Since 2010, the number of travellers coming to the Seychelles from Hong Kong has more than doubled."
Flights will operate between Hong Kong and Mahe via Abu Dhabi, but passengers remain on the aircraft.
Air Seychelles, is 40 per cent owned by Etihad Airways, which will support further China traffic.