September 28, 2022
9/15/1977: Air Seychelles Is Formed

9/15/1977: Air Seychelles Is Formed

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Mahé-based Air Seychelles (HM) was formed in 1977 in the Republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

For many years, the islands were difficult to access for tourists due to a lack of suitable airfields. This changed when, in 1971, Short airstrips were built on the islands of Praslin and Frégate, complementing the main runway on Mahé, after a swift rise in the number of passengers traveling to and from Seychelles by air.

Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) would open on March 20, 1972.

To cater to the growing tourism industry, the government of Seychelles decided to merge two local carriers to form a national airline. Air Mahé and Inter-Island Airways became Seychelles Airlines, tasked with operating interisland air services. It was renamed Air Seychelles in September 1978.

International Expansion

Domestic services began with a fleet of Britten-Norman Trislanders, Islanders, and Shorts 360s. In 1983, a Douglas DC-10 was leased from Martinair (MP) to commence international flights to London via Frankfurt.

The fleet was expanded in 1989 with the arrival of the Boeing 767-200ER. Its delivery flight set a new world record for a commercial twin-jet, flying 14,311 km from Michigan, USA to SEZ. In total, HM operated four -200ERs and three of the larger -300ERs.

Image: Air Seychelles via Facebook

In 1993, the airline leased a Boeing 757 to expand its network in Europe.

In 2007, Air Seychelles would make regional history as Captain Nicole Change-Leng becomes the airline’s first female pilot and the first Seychellois to captain a Boeing 767 aircraft.

Etihad Airways (EY) purchased a 40% stake in the airline in 2012. On May 1, 2021, EY sold the stake back to the Government of Seychelles for just US$1. Today, the carrier operates a fleet of two Airbus A320neos and five Viking Air DHC-6-400 Twin otters.

Featured image: A former Air Seychelles Airbus A330-200, pictured in 2014, landing at Hong Kong International Airport. The airline no longer operates this type of aircraft. Photo: byeangel from Tsingtao, China – A6-EYZ | Air Seychelles | Airbus A330-243 | HKG, CC BY-SA 2.0

Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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