The Twin Otter DHC-6 400 aircraft, which was assembled in Canada and took eight days to reach Seychelles, has been named “Isle of Praslin” after the second-largest island in the 115-island archipelago.
The new aircraft is set to replace an older Twin Otter and will be joined later by a DHC-6 400 turboprop Twin Otter named “Isle of Farquhar” after Farquhar, an outer island of Seychelles.
The domestic fleet of Air Seychelles will have six Twin Otters to cater for the high demand for inter-island hopping, with the oldest being only five years old.
“This is another demonstration of the major investment that we are making in the future of Air Seychelles and the future of inter-island travel,” Roy Kinnear, the chief executive of Air Seychelles, told those present at the welcoming ceremony.
On average, Air Seychelles flies more than 40 times between the main island Mahe and Praslin, the second-most populated island, on a daily basis, going as high as 60 on peak Fridays.
In addition, the airline offers charter flights to other islands in the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean on its Twin Otter Fleet. These include Desroches, Bird and Denis Islands with the aim of providing travellers with an opportunity to explore lesser-known reaches of the country.
“Without our Twin Otters, reaching far islands would be exponentially harder and longer involving long journeys at sea,” said Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Minister for Tourism, Civil aviation, Ports and Marine.
At the inauguration ceremony on Friday, five pilots in the Air Seychelles domestic operations were promoted to the rank of Captain -- Christopher Mousbe, Michael Afif, Andy Benoit, Gavin Hermitte and Balaji Naidoo.
Hermitte, 29, said he had been fascinated by aviation from a very young age as he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his cousin, who was also a pilot.
“The role of a captain is not only about accumulating flying hours,” he said. “For those of us who have done the training are well aware of the responsibilities the role a commander entails. Including the standard of operation that needs to be maintained throughout our journey to ensure safety remains our number one priority at all times,” Hermitte added.
Hermitte said, “As captains we should lead by example and impart our knowledge to others so that they can be encouraged to follow in our footsteps.”