Starting in November, Air Seychelles will launch a once-weekly six-hour flight to Tel Aviv aboard one of their new Airbus A320neo aircraft.
In a statement released by Air Seychelles today, the new service linking the Indian Ocean Island to Israel will commence on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019.
Timed to connect with flights departing the Seychelles for Mumbai, Mauritius and Johannesburg, the new service will depart Mahe at 5:30PM in the evening and will arrive in Tel Aviv at 9:50PM.
Operating the route will be one of Air Seychelles narrow-body A320neos with 12 business class and 156 economy class seats. The new delivery named Veuve by Air Seychelles and registered as S7-VEV is expected to arrive from the European manufacturer by the end of July.
Air Seychelles has a new inflight entertainment system
With the arrival of the new A320neo passengers on the flights between Maha and Tel Aviv will be able to access Air Seychelles new inflight entertainment system. Branded “seyStream” by the airline, passengers will be able to use their own devices to access a wide variety of free TV shows and movies. The system also features a dedicated children’s channel and a live active 3D moving map of the aircraft’s route.
Chief Financial Officer of Air Seychelles Michael Berlouis said,
“The creation of the first-ever air corridor between the Seychelles and Tel Aviv will strengthen business, tourism and cultural ties between the two countries in addition to boosting traffic and onward connections to other destinations across our network.
“We have taken a very cautious approach by partnering with tour operators in Tel Aviv to secure the majority of seats to be sold from Tel Aviv as one or two weeks packaged holidays in the Seychelles and Mauritius to ensure we guarantee the profitability of the year-round business.
“Seychelles is considered as a safe and secure destination for Israeli’s hence the once per week service will enable us to open up the Seychelles market, evaluate and develop the destination further, in addition to exploring the possibility of even introducing the second Airbus A320neo on the route if need be as Tel Aviv has a high GPD per capita.
“We are also expecting to gain significant volumes of traffic from the European market once we have established the agreement with El Al Airlines of which we are working closely with at the moment.”
Considering Air Seychelles record as an airline and the fact that Etihad Airways bailed them out in 2012 to the tune of $45 million in return for a 40% stake, Mr. Berlouis appears very confident in the new route.
Currently, Air Seychelles has only seven aircraft, not including the two new Airbus A320neos that are on order, the first of which will arrive at the end of this month.
It used to operate two Airbus A330 long-haul aircraft between Paris and the Seychelles but dropped the route in 2018. At the time, they released a statement saying that they wanted to concentrate on building their regional network.
Here we are now, not much more than a year later, and Air Seychelles has decided to forgo its regional development in favour of a six-hour and 20min flight aboard a narrow-body jet.
None of this makes sense unless you look under the covers and see what is really motivating Air Seychelles.
Why does Air Seychelles want to fly to Tel Aviv?
First of all, the Seychelles is regarded as a tropical paradise, akin to a European Hawaii when it comes to luxury honeymoons. This in itself is a big marketing tool for travel agents in Israel, but perhaps getting Israelis to fly to an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is not their main focus.
On the plus side for Air Seychelles, Israel’s Tourism Ministry grants airlines a massive 250,000€ for starting a new route to Israel, even if it’s just one flight a week according to website One Mile at a Time.
This is all very nice, and who wouldn’t want 250,000€ for flying a new route, but this is not the main reason why Air Seychelles has decided to fly to Tel Aviv. A good guess as to why the route is being started comes down to casino gambling! All forms of casino gambling are banned in Israel, including playing casino games and poker online.
The Air Seychelles CEO just about gave the game away when he said they would be relying on tour operators in Israel to sell the majority of the seats. The fact of the matter is that Israelis love to gamble; I know this from personal experience of running a casino.
Every week we would fly in between 30 and 120 gamblers from Tel Aviv. We would pay their airfare, put them up in our hotel, and pay for all their food and drinks. At the end of their stay with us, we would calculate what was left from their losses after our expenses, and then split the profit 50/50 with the tour operator that organized the junket.
Former Seychelles tourism minister likes the idea of casino junkets
Former Seychelles tourism minister Alain St.Ange brought the idea up a couple of years ago when he said:
“Seychelles is currently missing out on enormous revenue that can be obtained by globally established casinos. These casinos may bring in hoards of rich gamblers to our shores by providing flights, transport, accommodation in world-class resorts, and entertainment such as boat trips and island visits.
“Furthermore, these high rollers would spend large amounts of money on shopping and dining during their stay, further adding economic benefit. Also, as the saying goes ‘the odds are always in favour of the casino’. Not to discourage gambling, but statistics show that there is a greater chance of the money staying in the house, rather than leaving the house. In this instance the house is the Seychelles.”
I’ve got a sneaky feeling that Air Seychelles has figured this out as well, and can say from experience tour operators in Israel will have no problem filling seats on the plane.
Do you think I am right or way off base? Do let me know in the comments.