Air Seychelles board members met President Danny Faure yesterday morning at State House as part of the president’s series of meetings to improve dialogue with key organisations.
After the discussions, Jean Weeling-Lee, chairman of Air Seychelles board told members of the press that “the meeting was an opportunity to brief President Faure on where we are as a company, share with him our success and challenges, the progress we are making on our transformation plan started last year and in the process highlight the different elements of the plan where we need support as a company.”
The President has understood our challenges and aspirations and he has reaffirm the government’s support.
Detailing the different elements of the transformation plan, Mr Weeling-Lee stressed on the fact that such a transformation process comes with a lot of costs which shareholders must absorb.
“We needed the support of both Etihad Airways and government and not to forget that of our people,” said Mr Weeling-Lee. He said President Faure has reaffirmed the government’s commitment and engagement to fully support the national airline’s transformation.
In terms of progress on the transformation process over the past year, Mr Jean Weeling-Lee said they are solidly on track and are progressing as planned.
“We are confident that at the end of the planned period we as a business will be solidly profitable,” Mr Weeling-Lee affirmed.
With the arrival of the two new A320 neo, one planned in July this year and the other in March next year, Mr Weeling-Lee said the national carrier will be solidly anchored as it will be able to run a more sustainable and profitable regional operation with other plans for the future.
Discussions with the president were also centred on operational and financial risks, expansion of the airline’s regional strategy, and external factors affecting operation such as fuel price and the competitiveness of the aviation industry.
Meanwhile Mr Weeling-Lee has confirmed that Air Seychelles has been recently experiencing several “aircraft on the ground incidents” some of which were due to bad weather and others to technical problems.
“As safety cannot be compromised, the moment an incident arises, as a service provider we will never take any risk but will choose to ground the aircraft and with the often very tight schedule, crew run out of fly hours resulting in long delays and passenger frustration,” Mr Weeling-Lee stressed.
Furthermore, he admitted that there has been a breakdown in communication in a recent incident in Johannesburg, South Africa. He said on the ground there the airline relies on a third party service provider and he affirmed that there is a need to improve communication by empowering the people on the ground to take quick decisions. He said the airline also has to consider having its own people on the ground in order to provide support both in terms of decision-making and communication.
Meanwhile, Air Seychelles chief executive Remco Althuis has described their meeting with President Faure as “very fruitful”.
A communiqué from State House said the president commended the board members, management and staff of Air Seychelles for the hard work they continue to do despite the challenges. He stressed on the importance of staying focused on their core mandate and reaffirmed the government’s support to ensure the long term sustainable operation of the local airline.