Air France resumed direct flights linking Seychelles to Paris, the French capital when it touched down on Sunday at the international airport of Pointe Larue.
After an 18-month hiatus, the national airline of France will operate twice-weekly flights from the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursdays and Saturdays. The return flights from Mahe will be on Fridays and Sundays.
The first flight on Sunday carried 203 guests who were given a taste of creole hospitality as they received local souvenirs from the Department of Tourism and experienced the lively spirit of the Seychellois through live traditional music.
The director general for destination marketing, Bernadette Willemin, said that "having Air France back on our shores is a great moment for our destination. France remains a market that is performing well for us despite the lack of direct flights and the fact that we were on the red list."
She added that with "the availability of direct flights to Seychelles as from today, we are forecasting the French market would not only do well in terms of visitor arrivals but also to regain its place in the top three markets."
Seychelles recorded 43,297 visitor arrivals from France in 2019 making it the country's second top market for that year. In 2021, the island nation welcomed 8,620 visitors from France.
Willemin said that the removal of Seychelles from France's red list and the return of Air France is expected to boost visitor arrivals.
"It will also help improve occupancy not just in hotels, but also in the smaller guesthouses and self-catering establishments and bring more visitors to Praslin, La Digue and the other islands," she added.
On his side, French ambassador to Seychelles, Dominique Mas, said, "We are happy to have a direct flight back from the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport as it is now easier for French travellers to get to Seychelles."
Mas said that having a direct connection will help ease the journey of travellers to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
"The improvement of the sanitary situation in both countries has indeed contributed to the restart of travels between France and Seychelles. The decision to place Seychelles on the 'orange list' and the arrival of Air France today reiterates the confidence of both governments in the good functioning of their respective safety measures," he added.
With the return of Air France, there are now 11 airlines connecting Seychelles to the rest of the world.