Air Seychelles’ Surprising New Once Weekly Flight To Israel

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Well here’s an interesting new route that’s surprising on the surface, but also quite logical…

Air Seychelles launching flights to Israel

Air Seychelles has announced that they plan to launch a once weekly flight between the Seychelles and Israel as of November 27, 2019. The flight will operate on Wednesdays with the following schedule:

HM22 Mahe to Tel Aviv departing 5:30PM arriving 9:50PM
HM21 Tel Aviv to Mahe departing 11:55PM arriving 8:15AM (+1 day)

The flight will cover a distance of over 2,850 miles in each direction, and is blocked at 6hr20min. This will be Air Seychelles’ new longest route.

The flight will be operated by an Airbus A320neo featuring a total of 168 seats, including 12 business class seats and 156 economy seats. Air Seychelles has two of these on order, the first of which will be delivered this month.

The logic for this route

A once weekly flight isn’t exactly earth-shattering, but there are a couple of reasons I find this route to be interesting.

First of all, for some background, Air Seychelles is 40% owned by Etihad Airways, and as is the case with many of Etihad’s investments, this one hasn’t worked out too great, and Air Seychelles was forced to restructure. The airline used to have a couple of A330s, and they flew to Paris, though they cut those flights as of 2018.

At this point Air Seychelles has just seven planes, five of which are props (they’re getting two more A320neos). At this point Air Seychelles doesn’t even fly to Abu Dhabi anymore.

That brings me to the two reasons I find this noteworthy.

Israel/UAE relations

With this development, Air Seychelles will fly to Israel but not to the UAE. On some level that’s interesting, given that the UAE doesn’t even recognize Israel as a country, yet this will be the new longest route for an airline they have such a big stake in.

Ultimately that’s not too surprising, as we often see a disconnect when it comes to strong political stances like this. For example, Qatar Airways owns a 49% stake in Air Italy, and Air Italy has made a point of talking about how pro-gay they are.

Why this route makes sense

How is a once weekly route to Israel supposed to make sense? As explained by Air Seychelles’ CFO:

“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.”

Wow, a well thought our route!

On top of that, Air Seychelles is establishing an interline agreement with EL AL, which will enable passengers to connect from 20 destinations in Europe to the Seychelles via Tel Aviv.

Essentially Air Seychelles will be routing people on EL AL to Europe, rather than on Etihad, given that they don’t fly to Abu Dhabi anymore.

One other interesting potential thing here is that historically Israel’s Tourism Ministry grants airlines 250,000EUR if they launch a new route, even if it’s only once weekly. So I’m sure that will go a long way towards covering the operating costs of this flight.

Bottom line

This is a really creative route for Air Seychelles to launch, though it makes perfect sense. Assuming they actually think they can get significant tour business this route could do quite well, especially when you factor in the grant that Israel gives airlines launching new routes.

And like I said above, there is an irony to the 250,000EUR payment from Israel indirectly going into the UAE’s pockets, though such oddities exist in many area.

Congrats to Air Seychelles for thinking outside the box.

Comments
  1. Saw a El Al charter at Mahe when I was there last year, so I’m not shocked based on that.

  2. Any idea about award availability and pricing? Only thing I could find was that it’ll be 800$ RT econ, but no (public) word about prices with Etihad Guest.

  3. I can’t imagine the codeshare with El Al will yield much. TLV is a nightmare for transiting.

  4. As @RP pointed out these flights are too long for the same two pilots to fly both the out and back segments. They must deadhead 2 pilots on each of these flights. I don’t think the same rules apply to flight attendants, especially if they staff it with 6 flight attendants to help reduce the workload. Or yes they could give them all a week-long vacation.

  5. Air Seychelle was not a wise investment opportunity due to their very small network

  6. Etihad’s involvement has a precedent: Alitalia flew several daily flights to TLV while 49% of their shares belonged to the UAE airline.

    Currently, transiting in TLV hardly exists: in 2018, of the circa 23M passengers TLV handled, less then 10K transited…

    This may change in coming years since geographically it makes sense as a hub connecting Asia and Europe. El Al, which is still the biggest carrier there, seems to have understood it as it is marketing more and more tickets connecting European cities and, for instance, Hong Kong.

    Having said that, that airport is becoming quite congested even without being a hub, so who knows….

  7. Lie flat seats on their new planes? (This is a 6hr red eye). Curious as to what Etihad will charge for this flight…

  8. “…there is an irony to the 250,000EUR payment from Israel indirectly going into the UAE’s pockets”

    Not really, as that isn’t going into the UAE’s pocket, indirectly or not….

  9. The most fun I have had in a plane all year was on a short domestic Air Seychelles flight. Super friendly inflight crew. There is no door between the passenger cabin and the pilots, and after you land, they’re happy to chat. Totally worth it!

  10. Etihad owns 49% in Air Serbia and Air Serbia flies daily to Tel Aviv, yet no flights to Abu Dhabi.

  11. @LAXJeff, They’ll most likely fly south over there Red Sea, then a little east to avoid Somalia, then south.

  12. @Uri Goren – agreed.

    Similar to LY’s flight to BOM, which they use the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to access.

  13. Will this allow a transit from North America El Al flights, i.e. the new flight from San Francisco? Could be a more efficient connection than Europe.

  14. TLV is the absolute worst airport to transit especially if you are brown. The Israeli border police will sometimes question you for upto 30-45 minutes. Mind you this is primary not secondary screening which can go on for hours. Paranoia is widespread. So highly doubt you will make any tight connections in TLV.
    On the other hand Israeli backpackers can be found everywhere. Israel has a tradition of kids who graduate high school to take a year to go backpacking before signing up for their military service or to take a year after the military service before going to college. This means cheap tourist destinations will always have full planes from TLV.

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