Air Mauritius returned to Seychelles on Tuesday after a 14-year absence, touching down at 11.10 a.m. local time to become the 15th airline to connect the island nation to the rest of the world.
Air Mauritius is flying to the 115-archipelago in the western Indian Ocean twice weekly -- Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11.10 a.m. and 1.10 a.m.
The return of Air Mauritius brings extra competition to the country's national airline, Air Seychelles, but the extra flights should also bring increased economic benefits.
"As a country that depends greatly on tourism, trade, and investment, a new airline coming into the country is always a plus for Seychelles. As an island, we are isolated and the only way to develop is to have connectivity and the best form of connectivity today is by plane," said Didier Dogley, the Minister for Tourism Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine.
He added that "this helps tourism in general as now people will be able to come on twin holidays where they can spend several days in Mauritius and several days in Seychelles."
"We want to have more connection with countries of the Indian Ocean, in a way to better develop regional tourism," said the Minister.
The airline, based at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport of Mauritius, flies to over 10 destinations around the world, including France, China Australia, United Kingdom and South Africa.
Air Seychelles and Air Mauritius have over the years partnered through a commercial arrangement on this route. Earlier this year the Mauritian national airline informed its intention to resume scheduled flights to Seychelles.
The senior manager of sales and strategic cooperation of Air Mauritius, Ben Balasoupramanien, said the company's vision "is to develop the regional market, giving people a wider choice to fly to and from Seychelles."
Additional flights between Seychelles and Mauritius will provide more seating capacity and cargo space, which is ideal for tourism and trade. Air Mauritius' Airbus A319-100 has the capacity to accommodate 124 passengers and around two tonnes of cargo.
Until today Air Seychelles was the only airline connecting the two countries with scheduled services to and from Mauritius on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Commenting on the competition now between the Seychellois and Mauritian airlines, Balasoupramanien said: "competition is always good and it is the passengers that benefit from it."
"As of tomorrow, there is a promotion where the ticket will cost just under SCR6000 [$440], which will last until the end of August and the usual price will be at around SCR7000 [$514]," said Balasoupramanien.
Dogley said that Air Seychelles has already announced that it will be matching the ticket price of Air Mauritius. Air Seychelles has a bigger plane which will allow the airline to give more kilos to the passenger which is an advantage it has over Air Mauritius.