The Seychelles' national carrier, Air Seychelles, will add a next-generation aircraft -- the Airbus A320neo -- to its fleet in the second half of next year, giving the fleet a boost in fuel efficiency and advanced technology.
The order for the new aircraft was signed on Monday and is part of the airline's plan to refresh its fleet and increase efficiency on its regional network.
The new addition will enable the airline to increase the capacity on its Johannesburg and Mumbai routes and at the same time help make significant fuel savings and reduce the airline's operating costs.
At the signing ceremony on Monday, Remco Althuis, chief executive of Air Seychelles, said, "We are delighted to once again work with Airbus to bring the most technologically advanced and efficient aircraft across our regional network."
"To position Air Seychelles as the airline of choice within the Indian Ocean, we need to ensure that the business is aligned with the demands of the markets in which we operate today," added Althuis.
He said that the new order is part of the company's strategic plan and will "not only enable the airline to gradually replace its existing jet fleet with modern new aircraft, but it will also enable Air Seychelles to further strengthen its business by operating in a more efficient manner."
On his side, the Airbus chief commercial officer, Eric Schulz said, "We are pleased that Air Seychelles has chosen the A320neo to complement its long-term growth strategy."
"The fuel-efficient aircraft will provide the airline with unbeatable efficiency, lowest operating costs and a significantly reduced environmental footprint," added Schulz.
The A320neo (new engine option) is one of many upgrades introduced by Airbus to help maintain its A320 product line's position as the world's most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft family.
Air Seychelles is the first airline to order the A320neo in the western Indian Ocean. The aircraft will be equipped with new in-flight product reflecting the latest trends in air travel industry, offering guests greater level of comfort and an enhanced travel experience, the airline said.
Didier Dogley, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine said that with the aviation industry becoming extremely competitive, the new aircraft "will elevate the product Air Seychelles offers across the region ensuring the airline continues to develop and grow sustainably."
As part of its restructuring, Air Seychelles is also downsizing and has confirmed that 126 staff will be made redundant instead of the around 174 announced earlier this year.
"We have just informed those that are being made redundant that they will receive their final letter with all their dues calculated. We have considered a five-month package including the allowances," said Althuis, the chief executive.
He added that with the arrival of the Airbus next year, new positions will be created and some workers have been offered to come back.
Air Seychelles, established in 1978, is the national carrier of Seychelles' archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The airline offers international flights to Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg, Mauritius and Mumbai and offers more than 350 domestic scheduled flights a week throughout the island nation.
The airline maintains a strategic partnership with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and 40 percent stakeholder.