Air Seychelles (HM) will end its service between Mahé and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May.

Air Seychelles Chief Commercial Officer, Charles Johnson, told Tourism Update that Air Seychelles would operate its last flight on May 12, however the following day Etihad plans to service the route daily.

“Our HM codeshare will remain, therefore actually giving us more flights under the HM flight number, but without our aircraft,” explains Johnson.

The decision to cancel the service was a commercial one, according to Johnson, with the route not performing economically, and with no turnaround in sight.

Remco Althuis, CEO of Air Seychelles, says: “After closely monitoring the performance of the Abu Dhabi route and considering all options, Air Seychelles has taken the business decision to suspend its Abu Dhabi service.

“In the past year the route has delivered low passenger numbers and we have even noticed weaker travel demand from the UAE, Europe or Asia connecting with the route, making it not a viable ongoing commercial operation for Air Seychelles.”

Althuis says since Air Seychelles will not be operating the Abu Dhabi route, it now needs to find an alternative solution to fulfil its business requirements.

 “The removal of this service will also allow us to pursue more flights on other routes,” adds Johnson, “including going to daily on the Johannesburg route and adding a service to Antananarivo.”

“We have explored various options and, following demand from passengers, we have decided to bring back Madagascar on to our network as a seasonal operation only during the peak summer season to ensure that we utilise the aircraft to the maximum so as to bring additional revenue to the business,” says Althuis.

Etihad maintains a strong partnership with Air Seychelles, according to Robin Kamark, CEO of Etihad Aviation Group: “We continue to support the transformation plan of the airline, as eventually the aim is to optimise the network to ensure Air Seychelles is in a strong position for growth and long-term sustainability.”

According to Didier Dogley, Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Air Seychelles is operating in a challenging environment and, as a pillar of tourism for the island nation, it is necessary for the national flag carrier to implement changes to its network.

All guests scheduled to fly between Seychelles and Abu Dhabi past the termination date will be offered alternative travel arrangements.

To meet the increasing travel demand over the upcoming summer season the airline will in addition operate seasonal flights between the Seychelles and the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, for a period of four months as from July 3 to until October 26.

From June 3, Air Seychelles will commence daily services to Johannesburg, with a new flight to be operated on Mondays.