By Winston Shek
Aeroflot Launches Flights to Seychelles
On Friday, Aeroflot announced the launch of flights from Moscow to Mahé, Seychelles — a country in the western Indian Ocean comprised of a collection of islands. The news arrives after Seychelles authorities reported the reopening of borders in late March.
According to data from theaeronetwork, this route was previously served until November 2001. And once again, starting on April 2, the flight will be operated on Aeroflot’s Boeing 777-300ER once per week on Fridays. The route is blocked at 8 hours and 35 minutes from Moscow to Seychelles and 8 hours and 50 minutes from Seychelles to Moscow.
|Origin||Destination||Departure Time||Arrival Time|
|Moscow, Russia||Mahé, Seychelles||12:20 a.m.||9:55 a.m.|
|Mahé, Seychelles||Moscow, Russia||11:05 p.m.||6:55 a.m. (+1)|
Passengers will experience Aeroflot’s largest aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER, with 402 seats. The aircraft showcases 30 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, 48 premium economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration and 324 economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration.
Competition-wise, Aeroflot is the only airline flying directly from Russia to Seychelles. However, the Russian-airline will face competition from a number of airlines offering one-stop service on the route including Middle-Eastern airlines like Emirates and Etihad via their hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively. Furthermore, Aeroflot can expect competition from airlines in Africa like Ethiopian Airlines.
In recent months, Aeroflot has begun rebuilding a small portion of its international route network with a long-haul focus on Asia. Aeroflot increased the number of international flights it operates by 99.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the quarter before. In February, the Russian-airline restarted flights to Delhi, India; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Baku, Azerbaijan and Yerevan, Armenia.
The addition of the route to Seychelles — which is a part of Africa — represents the airline’s first addition to the continent in recent years. It comes with the news, however, that Aeroflot will temporarily eliminate all flights to the U.S. during the period from May-October, according to theaeronetwork.
Recently, Seychelles announced the reopening of their country to tourists starting March 25. When arriving in Seychelles, visitors will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before arrival. As a result, no quarantine will be imposed upon arrival. Regular COVID-19 precautions like wearing a mask, sanitizing, and social distancing are required throughout the East African country.
South African citizens will be banned from entering the country on account of issues with COVID-19 in the country.
“The problem is the European market,” according to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde. “We are already on a red list in England associated with flights to South Africa. So we are in discussions with the British authorities to better understand what their problem is and how to resolve this. Once resolved we will open to everyone including South Africa.”
As a country with an economy built around tourism, the Seychelles tourism industry saw a 61% decline in revenue during the pandemic. The swift response for lockdown on the country caused its tourism-related businesses to struggle, prompting an aggressive vaccination program to reopen the country.
According to the Associated Press, Seychelles received vaccine donations from the United Arab Emirates and India with 50,000 Chinese Sinopharm vaccines and 40,000 Astrazeneca vaccines, respectively. Due to these donations and vaccine purchases from the government, the nation expects to vaccinate 70% of its population by mid-March, allowing it to reach herd immunity.
By reopening the country, Seychelles expects its tourism industry to rebound. Amid its reliance on cruise travel, the nation hopes that flights like Aeroflot’s to Moscow can help draw in tourists for the collection of islands in the western Indian Ocean.