FARNBOROUGH: Air Seychelles chief open to extended term

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Air Seychelles’ chief executive Manoj Papa is willing to stay on in his post if Etihad Airways’ contract to manage the Mahe-based carrier is extended beyond 2017.

With three years remaining on its five-year management contract of Air Seychelles, Papa tells Flightglobal he does not know if he can continue with the carrier after the deals expiry but says: “If there is an extension of the Etihad agreement, that could be an option.”

Papa says Air Seychelles is now “right sized” to operate profitably and sustainably after slashing routes and capacity after its tie-up with Etihad in 2012, and he says all the indications are that another profit will be posted for 2014.

“We’ve seen a really good profit in quarter one, mainly driven by increased revenue, and that’s driven by means of increased yield and load factor,” he says.

“Etihad has invested 40% in Air Seychelles and I guess, like any other strategic partner, at the end of the day they want to ensure their investments are giving them relevant returns. The mandate for Air Seychelles is very clear: be commercially viable and ensure your profits are sustainable."

The airline made a $3 million profit in 2013 and Papa says the Air Seychelles strategy is to “leverage” the strengths of equity partner Etihad and codeshare partners to drive traffic volumes and revenues.

He also says he is not concerned by news that a new rival island carrier, Seychelles Airlines, plans to start services from Mahe to Europe and has formally applied for an air operators certificate.

“I do not know much about their business plan or their strategy, but our business strategy is sound. We would continue to focus on our business,” he says, adding: “Entrants into the market, be it in the form of entrants in the region or from abroad, I guess they have identified opportunities in the market and therefore built their business around it.”