Seychelles and Israel on Tuesday signed a bilateral air service agreement catering for an increased frequency of flights between the two countries, creating more opportunities for tourism and business exchanges.
The agreement was signed by the Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Alan Renaud, and the newly accredited Israeli Ambassador to Seychelles, Michael Lotem.
Renaud said that such agreements are important ones as they talk about the rules for air services between countries when it comes to passengers, cargo and mail.
“We have agreed with our partners in Israel to expand the number of frequencies from 14 flights per week to 28 flights per week and this will take immediate effect after the next exchanges of letters,” said Renaud.
The agreement was initiated in October 2015 following which visitor arrival numbers from Israel started increasing. According to the latest figures from Seychelles’ National Bureau of Statistics, a total of 9,069 Israeli visitors have landed in Seychelles since the start of 2022, ranking among the top ten markets of the island nation.
Direct flights to Tel Aviv, Israel are currently being operated by Seychelles’ national airline, Air Seychelles. Renaud outlined that at the moment Air Seychelles’ capacities for export are already full as the island nation exports fish to Israel.
Lotem shared that “the agreement aims at ensuring that both sides get reciprocal conditions and to regulate the aerial connection between Israel and Seychelles.”
“The companies will discuss the details, and frequency of the flight and so on. Arriving here easily is a good start for business. I do not believe that without a direct flight, businessmen do not come. They do but in lower numbers as there is always an easier alternative” said Lotem.
In August 2022, Air Seychelles became the first airline to receive permission from the Saudi Arabian authorities to overfly their territory on flights operating between Seychelles and Israel. This allowed the airline to make a reduction in fuel burn between 500kg-1000kg per flight as well as an increased ability to carry an additional twenty passengers per flight.
“The fact that we can fly over Saudi Arabia makes the flight shorter,” said Lotem.
Lotem presented his credentials on Tuesday morning
Earlier during the day, Ambassador Lotem presented his credentials to Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan.
Following the short ceremony at State House, Victoria, Lotem shared with the press that their discussions mainly revolved around agriculture, business, health, and tourism.
Ambassador Lotem presenting his credentials to President Ramkalawan (Seychelles Nation). Photo License: All Rights Reserved
“When it comes to agriculture, we discussed the fact that these days, agriculture does not depend on space, soil, water, and weather. It stands alone. It is a sector that with the right technology, you can produce as much as you choose to produce. That is something that we should be working on,” said Lotem.
Talking about the tourism sector, Lotem outlined that “there are quite a few Israelis who come to Seychelles for tourism.”
Seychelles and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1992. The ambassador will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Lotem said that the most important task now is to “find the local partner here to work with Israel.”
“The easiest thing is to talk about what can be done – so many things can be done everywhere but the most important thing is to find people who want to do it with us and Israelis who want to work with Seychelles,” he said.