An Air Seychelles Airbus A330-243 .
(photo credit: FLICKR)
For the first time in 20 years, Israelis in search of a seaside-destination for vacation will be able to board direct flights to the cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean known as the Seychelles.
Air Seychelles announced Tuesday that it has selected Tel Aviv as its newest destination for non-stop flights, which will begin their operation November 27.
New aircraft technology has made the six hour, 20 minute flight economically feasible, and the airline hopes to capitalize on Israel’s geographic link to Europe through an eventual partnership with El-Al. It also hopes to build off the existing tourism relationship between Israel and the Seychelles.
Currently, 4,500 Israelis visit the vacation spot each year, and the 115-island archipelago known for its crystal waters and lush forests hopes to increase that number to support an economy heavily reliant on the tourism industry.
Air Seychelles stopped running direct flights between Israel and the Seychelles 20 years ago when it proved financially unfeasible. But with the addition of the fuel- and cost-efficient Airbus A320neo to the carrier’s fleet, the journey is once more possible.
“While we are a 40-year-old airline, we have one of the youngest fleets,” said Charles Johnson, chief commercial officer of Air Seychelles. With direct flights to Tel Aviv, the Seychelles will be the first country in Africa to operate the A320neo.
The flights will depart from Tel Aviv every Wednesday at 11:55 p.m. and arrive in the Seychelles the next morning. They will return to Israel the following week on Wednesday’s at 5:30 p.m., thereby locking in travelers for a week-long getaway.
The airline is also promoting connecting flights to Mauritius, known more for its shopping and nightlife than for its beaches, as well as Johannesburg, hoping travelers will spend a few days in Seychelles on their way back.
“It’s not just ‘beten gav,’ there,” said Giora Levin, drawing a distinction between a vacation in the Seychelles and a more sedentary getaway.
Levin, who conducts tours in the area for Israelis, describes the walking paths filled with indigenous flora and fauna, the prominence of deep-sea fishing and the Creole cuisines that blend fruits, vegetables and seafood from different continents.
The travel time to the islands will be reduced by half with the operation of the A320neo this November. The airline was careful to note that kosher food will be available onboard.
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