At the beginning of the year, the Republic of Seychelles government suggested that Air Seychelles would become a domestic airline due to the industry shakeup amid the pandemic. Moreover, the airline also dropped its widebody models in its fleet over the years in favor of the Airbus A320 family. However, if the airline wants to re-emerge as a long-haul carrier after the market’s long road to recovery, Air Seychelles CEO Remco Althuis expresses that the Airbus A321XLR could be a great suitor for the airline.
The current conditions
Presently, the carrier holds two A320neos to help it focus on feeder flights around the Indian Ocean-based islands. It then relies on codeshares with international powerhouses to connect passengers from around the world.
Air Seychelles understands that this present model may not be the requirement forever. The aviation industry is continuing to adapt and evolve, and the needs of the market could be completely different by the time the decade is over.
Opening up opportunities
Althuis is full of praise for the A321XLR. Notably, he highlights the narrowbody’s ability to take the airline straight to the likes of West Africa and Europe at lower risk than a widebody.
“I mean, it’s an excellent aircraft. There’s no doubt about it, I mean, it’s not flying yet, but on the drawing board, it looks fantastic. And looking at the experience that we’ve had during COVID, which I alluded to, so picking up people in Bilbao and West Africa. It would allow us to fly to Moscow nonstop and Singapore and Bangkok and Cape town and Rome and all the cities that we are developing short-term on the charters, the Bucharest, the Warsaw, and those places,” Althuis said in an interview with CAPA Live.
“So, yes, I think we’ll see a fantastic new shift for the industry when that comes into markets. It will obviously, expectedly, be followed by other aircraft from other manufacturers. But, to me, it is now, okay, first let’s get back in shape, get the house a bit in order, and then we can make a decision on that at a later stage. And you would have the opportunity to fly somewhere with a lot lower risk-cost price than you would have on a widebody like an A330 or an A350.”
Evaluating the climate
Althuis concludes that the airline would have to assess the market in the future to see if the conditions would suit it to take on the type. Questions such as if the operator would be able to fill the aircraft consistently would have to be answered at the time. Ultimately, a move for such a plane would not be a short-term decision.
Overall, the heightened reliance on codeshares and agreements for global traffic won’t last forever. A country that heavily relies on tourism would prefer its flag carrier to have somewhat of an international network. Etihad is already in talks with the government of Seychelles to sell its stake in the airline. So, if Air Seychelles was to increase its self-reliance in the future, the A321XLR could be the perfect addition.
What are your thoughts about the Airbus A321XLR? Do you feel that the plane would suit Air Seychelles’ operations down the line? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and the airline in the comment section.