(eTN) – Only days after formally signing a deal with partner airline Etihad to open the Australian market through codeshared flights to Melbourne and Sydney, Air Seychelles has now inked a strategic partnership with Czech Airlines, allowing for initially three flights a week between Prague and Mahe via Abu Dhabi, is seen as part of an aggressive repositioning of the airline, if not through direct flights but through codeshared operations, to reclaim market presence and market share in Europe.
The two airlines now offer market access to travelers not just from the Czech Republic but the wider Eastern European region, who want to explore the Seychelles and experience that holiday of a lifetime they always read about with a one-stopover flight.
“The addition within the space of a few days of Melbourne, Sydney, and now Prague is a major achievement for our national airline. It helps to fill our beds, something you highlighted just a few days ago, and the seats on our flights from Mahe to Abu Dhabi, and allows us to become present in marketplaces the old Air Seychelles could in the past only dream of. Through codeshared flights we now cover the UK and Ireland more effectively than ever before, and the same is the case in France and Germany.
“Now the Czech Republic has joined as an HM destination. The plane to and from Prague will be a Czech Airline plane but our HM code will show on airport displays in scheduling information and as a result on the booking screens of travel agents. Such agreements widen our reach, allow us control, and at least from Abu Dhabi, passengers can taste the essence of the Seychelles already in-flight when they fly the Creole Spirit,” wrote a Mahe-based source when passing the information earlier in the day.
Eastern Europe has become an important market segment, showing significant growth in past years, and the magic of the Seychelles has reached potential travelers by word of mouth and through the travel media, which are reporting regularly on such high-profile events like the “Carnival of Carnivals,” the Carnaval International de Victoria.
Cramer Ball, CEO of Air Seychelles, added his voice to the excitement of the breaking news when he said: “The Seychelles has seen a surge in arrivals from Central and Eastern Europe in recent years, and I’m delighted to forge a partnership with Czech Airlines, an important player in the region. With this new agreement, the Seychelles has access to the city of Prague and attractive destinations beyond in Central and Eastern Europe operated by Czech Airlines, such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Scandinavia. We are confident the schedule will appeal to travelers throughout Central and Eastern Europe, thereby providing a source of revenue that will contribute to the future of Air Seychelles, Seychelles tourism, and our home economy. It is also thrilling to note that we have connected three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Seychelles, with its two natural wonders, Aldabra and the Vallee de Mai, and Prague, a cultural wonder, known for its beauty and historical significance.”
His counterpart, Mr. Philippe Moreels, President of Czech Airlines, in turn was quoted as having said: “The partnership with Air Seychelles brings to Czech Airlines’ clients a new, smoother way to travel to the Seychelles, a destination with increasing demand in Central Europe. And vice versa, Prague becomes closer and more easily accessible from the Seychelles. Thanks to perfect connectivity in Abu Dhabi, the two companies are able to offer attractive regular service, with a plan to increase the frequency of flights in future. This goes hand in hand with our intention to further develop Czech Airlines’ route between Prague and Abu Dhabi.”
Czech Airline is a member of the world’s second largest airline alliance, SkyTeam, and has Korean Air as an equity partner since April this year, in a deal very similar to the Air Seychelles/Etihad partnership. While neither Air Seychelles nor equity partner Etihad are yet part of any global aviation alliance, Etihad has pursued its own strategy to cement alliances through strategic cooperation agreements, which includes close cooperation with SkyTeam leaders KLM/Air France and in some cases shareholding partnerships such as Air Berlin, Air Lingus, Jet Airways, and Air Seychelles, among others.