Monday, February 27, 2012

The Seychelles Column - By Christopher Gill

Air Seychelles Needs Real Competition

The famous "Air Seychelles" brand - gone forever

The recent surprise sell out of Government of Seychelles interest in the national air carrier Air Seychelles, has exposed the very deep rifts that exist in the Air Seychelles failed business model.

United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) Takes 40% Interest and Control 

Abu Dhabi - Air Seychelles new headquarters

Most are knowledgeable of the 40% interest the UAE Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad has taken in Air Seychelles. Many have called this a national shame for Seychelles. It is a shame. Etihad Managing Director has said that after the acquisition: “Etihad is not considering any other acquisition because its plate is now full with the purchase of Air Berlin and Air Seychelles”.

Etihad - Savior of Air Seychelles or the beginning of the end for Air Seychelles?

Indeed the Etihad plate is full. It has also negotiated full control of Air Seychelles, in spite of the ex-national air carrier having only One (1) single Boeing 767-300 that can do international flights. Etihad has placed its own CEO and Chairman at the helm of Air Seychelles and they even control the domestic segment of the Air Seychelles company. Here is where our problems start and I will propose solutions.

Domestic Fare Hikes Outrageous!

Air Seychelles Domestic Service - plagued by bad management,poor customer service & high ticket fares

Last week Air Seychelles hiked air fares between Mahe and Praslin from SCR 512 (US$ 36) round trip to SCR 1,600 (US$ 112) round trip. The lower rate was a local residential rate, while tourists were already paying the higher rate in hard currency. Now the highway robbery rate applies to residents purchasing tickets under some sort of code. This new rate is not only outrageous, it is ridiculous. In Europe one can purchase a ticket from Heathrow to Spain for GBP 20 (UK Pound Sterling).  Most of these domestic flights are empty or operate under 50% capacity.

Even Minister of Transport Joel Morgan had no clue the price hike was on the way. Poor Minister Morgan, kept in the dark by his own Frankenstein creation.

Minister Morgan - In the dark and out of his depth as usual

In the past Air Seychelles advertised over Twenty (20) flights to Praslin per day. Today, we are lucky if Air Seychelles runs Four (4) flights per day to Praslin. It is doing close to what Cat Cocos does. But the boat carries over 500 people on two trips. Air Seychelles can carry 80 passengers on Four(4) trips. Do the numbers and you will know the loss of market share for Air Seychelles over the years.

The fast and sleek "Cat Cocos" Catamaran Ferry - Excellent, affordable service

Service Is Just Plain Bad

The other common gripe with Air Seychelles domestic for years now, has been that service is just plain bad. It sucks. It is a bad experience. Delays on Air Seychelles are common. Flight cancellations are a regular event. The front desk check-in clerks treat you like you are baggage yourself and rude is a polite pronoun for many of them.

In spite of being advised by management to be polite with travelers, the system they are tasked to run, is patently flawed and they too being human, run out of patience when faced with reoccurring failure of Air Seychelles ability to deliver good service at a fair price.

Cat Cocos Beating The Plane To The Ground

The other inter-island option for travelers is Cat Cocos. They run a more efficient check in service than Air Seychelles domestic. They are even more professional and handle your booking much quicker. On the route, you are offered a choice of seating classes, food, beverages, and even in route DVD and CD entertainment. Even better then Air Seychelles, the seats are clean and laundered regularly. Leatherette seats are available in Lazio class and they do recline. When one takes the delays of inter island Air Seychelles into account, you get to Praslin on Cat Cocos in about the same time as taking Air Seychelles, but it is much cheaper. An economy seat runs for SCR 169 (US$ 12). A Lazio Business seat with food and drinks, cold towel, a smiling hostess and reclining seat costs just SCR 285 or (US$ 20).  If you take ten (10) trips, you get one free.  On Air Seychelles, you can take 1,000 trips, you will not even get a coke for free, but you will be guaranteed one thing: before the 1,000 trip, the ticket price will go up and so will your blood pressure.

Competition Will Clean Up This Mess

A plethora of bad reviews has plagued Air Seychelles for years now. We complain to management, they do nothing. Today, even management does not know what to do.

Rajiv Bissessur (Mauritian) and David Savy - Air Seychelles former incompetent management team

Air Seychelles Domestic is now run out of Abu Dhabi. It is a reality and it is a pure shame. To clean up this mess which is having a detrimental impact on Praslin and La Digue islands as possible destinations for guests, the time has come for the private sector of Praslin, La Digue, Mahe, Bird Island, Denis Island and other SEYCHELLOIS entrepreneurs to come together and create another airline company to make inter island flight feasible and functional with realistic pricing and rekindle the “Seychellois Spirit” service. This is the only solution at this point to rectify a non-responsive Air Seychelles, to the problems we have been facing with its operations for years now. The recent callous price hike is simply the straw that broke the camel's back.

Make Public Share Offers Raise Capital For new Planes

To push this along, business leaders need to group and act. Make a public offer to raise capital to buy new planes and deliver excellent inter island service from Mahe onwards. The company should be 100% Seychellois owned and we can leave Air Seychelles in the hands of James Michel, Sheikh Khalifa, Joel Morgan, David Savy and of course Etihad. We can even call it “Seychelles Airways”, and put an end to this madness that is hurting our tourism industry and the entire inter-island community, which even includes misguided Communists as you all know.

After Seychelles Airways is off the ground, let us go find the right plane and expand with direct flights to our core market which is Europe, and let us take back our tourism industry with a renewed “Seychellois Spirit”.

As President Obama said 4 years ago:

"We can do it, and yes we can!"

Seselwa Unite!

Sesel Pou Seselwa!

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


To all our faithful followers and fellow bloggers,

The management of STAR took a well-deserved break for the holidays, and we thank you all for your patience during the weeks that we did not post.

More importantly, we stopped posting for a while because there were too many online spies and Party Lepep bloggers who were coming online to disrupt our work, to criticise needlessly and sadly, most were uneducated and could only use swear words to express themselves.

Bloggers like these we do not need in 2012

But we are back with a renewed spirit for 2012 and will strive to educate our people on the mismanagement and corruption that is going on under James Michel's government.  Our country is facing major economic and social problems and we all need to pull together to rid ourselves of this illegitimate Government.  James Michel is not a president for all Seychellois, but has shown clearly that he favours Arab Sheikhs over his own people.

The end of Air Seychelles under Michel & David Savy         David Savy the Big Baby

The demise of Air Seychelles was planned months ago by Michel, David Savy and Khalifa, and while Etihad is now playing the good samaritan, we all know the full story and why they have acquired a stake in our national airline.  Sadly, many of our own Seychellois brothers and sisters, from pilots to ground crew to flight attendants have lost their livelihood and now scrambling to find new employment in a tough job market.  Most Party Lepep supporters were not made redundant and it was clear that opposition followers were targeted first.  Another black mark on Michel's record, and in the meantime, no one including the SBC-TV has questioned the fiasco and financial disaster orchestrated by David Savy and the smart sycophants that surrounded him during his tenure.

Michel-Not President of all Seychelles                   Michel's Best Friend - Sheikh Khalifa

It is quite clear that Etihad will swallow Air Seychelles eventually, from the domestic airline to the eventual management of our Pointe Larue airport operation. But beware as it does not stop at Air Seychelles.  Abu Dhabi also has their eyes on Port Victoria and is busy drawing up plans for a "new" Victoria where marinas and new buildings will spring up and owned by "friends of James Michel.  Of course, the new Seychelles Coast Guard base recently built by Khalifa, and guarded by Khalifa's UAE soldiers, along with the new boats "donated" by Khalifa, will only be used to protect Michel and Khalifa. The Masdar wind turbines, donated by Khalifa, will soon be turning in the harbour of Port Victoria and will be the new eyesore and blemish on our land; let alone the maintenance costs to be borne by us the good citizens of Seychelles.

Wind turbines - An eyesore for Port Victoria

Our Seychelles tankers will soon be "sold" to so-called friends, and our oil fields will soon be in the hands of Arab prospectors.  Seychelles Petroleum is on the "privatisation" list as well, and Captain Adam's sudden departure is the first step in that direction. PUC will follow suit and possibly many other parastatals as well.

Captain Adam and his tankers - losing millions and now a burden to our economy - Abu Dhabi bailout?

The Arabs have also found a new playground not too far from home, and the private planes continue to land at Pointe Larue full of young women flown in specifically for the carnal pleasures of the Arabian princes. The ex-Plantation Hotel is now called Kempinski and is the new Arab Playboy Mansion.  Two more large hotels will be built in the South of Mahe, all owned by Arab "friends" of Michel. In the meantime, Khalifa is busy buying up the properties of Indian magnate Siva who has apparently fallen out of favour.  From Mahe Beach Hotel to Therese Island and Conception, those will soon be in the hands of the good Sheikh and his family, all courtesy of James Michel and his party of cronies. Large tracts on Praslin and La Digue are also being transferred as we write this post.

Kempinski Seychelles - Playboy Mansion for Arab Princes

Apart from selling our islands as fast as he can for personal gains, Glenny Savy of IDC is now selling dredged-up sand to the public, and the tons of sand removed just off the shoreline of Beau Vallon will have dire environmental consequences in the future.  Coastal erosion has been created by the James Michel Government and not by global warming as Michel so valiantly professes during his myriads of overseas trips.  Michel is a liar and will continue to string the world along in order to get a few Euros from a foolish European Parliament and United Nations doomsday agencies, but Michel will not be able to run from the truth in the future.

The Fat King Glenny of Seychelles - "All islands are mine, and now I sell sand too".

Michel's tenure as President of Seychelles has been a shambles from day one and marred with disgraceful events. From bankrupting the country to judiciary collusion, from fixed elections to corruption, from the La Misere "Delo Kaka" incident to murders of innocent Seychellois citizens, from prostitution of our nation to the Arabs let alone social demise of our youth via prostitution and drugs, from passport selling scandals to white elephant projects such as the 2011 Expo, the list goes on and on.  Sheikh Khalifa's castle on top of La Misere is proof of how low our nation has fallen, and the illegal and ridiculous appointment of David Pierre as Leader of the Opposition, let alone the vengeful case against Ralph Volcere by so-called Judge Matilda Twomey are some of the final nails being hammered into the annals of Michel's coffin.

Ralph Volcere - Soon to be silenced by the corrupt court of Matilda Twomey, Ronny Govinden & Michel

Michel is also looking to the Chinese as well to help fund the coffers of Parti Lepep, and Danny Faure the chosen-one to be President is currently in Cuba probably getting a Doctorate Degree in Finance and Bankrupting Countries 101 from his Alma Mater. After all, even Castro has finally admitted that Communism is not the best way forward and Danny wants to learn from the best.

Confused Cuban Trained Dictator in the making

Meanwhile, the good Doctor Ramadoss has been appointed to the Party Lepep Central Committee, an affront in itself given that he cannot speak 2 words of Creole let alone English.

Dr. Ramadoss - Newly elected to Parti Lepep Committee

His younger brother has also been given a new Seychellois passport while his long-serving Accountant Palani has been given the boot.

Coco-de-Mer stamp found offensive by Arabs

The Doctor also continues to spend as if rupees are being printed at his Printec Press Holdings.  After last year's fist fight with ex-Printec owner and SPPF stalwart Louis Gopal, Ramadoss has now moved into the heavyweight division and recently took on local businessman Joe Albert of UCPS and Creole Travel in a loud screaming match.  Soon thereafter, and to spite Joe Albert, the Doctor went out and bought the catamaran "Praslin Express" to compete on the Mahe-Praslin-La Digue ferry route.  Not to be outspent, he also doled out nearly 15 million rupees to buy a commercial building from the Soleil family at Hermitage, and then went on to pay millions more for the commercial car wash next to the Victoria Fuel Station.  One wonders why the Tax Department or FIU does not investigate the finances of the good Doctor, or his source of funds.  Surely the Victoria Casino is not doing that well during this economic downturn?  So where is the Doctor getting all those millions to spend?  Election money?  Or is he fronting for his new Party itself or laundering the funds of the Ministers and other high-ranking Government officials?  Or has he finally sold the dilapidated hospital to Mukesh and Albert after taking money illegally from so many unsuspected investors?  Or is he bringing back some of the dollars he exported and stashed away in India during the foreign exchange black market crisis, albeit at a higher rate today than it was 5 or 6 years ago?  The people want to know.

Seychelles Rupee devaluing by the week

Tourism is in dire straits, the Euro, Dollar and Pound Sterling have appreciated by 20% or more against the rupee within 6 months, and IMF has finally stopped lying and told us that inflation is over 6%.  More like 50%  my good friends!  A bourgeois (red snapper) now sells for SR 500, if you are lucky enough to get one.  Ghurkas from Burma and now English wardens from the Isle of Wight of all places have arrived to guard our prison which is overloaded with Somali pirates awaiting trial or repatriation by our new Chief Pirate Minister Morgan, the most incredible lying Minister that has ever worked in our country.

Joel Morgan - Also known as Minister Lapire (Homebrew), Pirate Minister or Minister Pinnochio the Lying One

Meanwhile, the drug Lords continue to ply their trade under protection from the same people at State House and the Police who were supposed to be protecting the public. Corruption in every department of Government continues unabated.  Containers continue to be cleared from the Port on a daily basis without payment of tax and duties, all destined for friends of James Michel and his entourage who are seen flying in First Class and driving around in expensive jeeps.

First Class on Etihad anyone?             What about Emirates?                                  Or Qatar?

Our passports continue to be given away or sold at an alarming rate to anyone with $25,000 to pay to a Minister or high-ranking friend.  Government land is being "sold" to friends and relatives while large tracts are being auctioned to the highest Arab or Russian bidder. Beau Vallon has become the new "Little Russia" and can only be described as an environmental nightmare.  Eden Island is the enclave of a white South African "nouvo-riche" breed who believes the island is the new Cape Town, reserved for whites only and where they can treat our own Seychellois locals like "kaffirs" (black South Africans).  In summary, we Seychellois have become slaves and second-class citizens in our own country.

Eden Island or Cape Town?  Seychellois not welcome.

My dear friends, 2012 will be another demanding year for us Seychellois people who believe in real democracy and freedom for our people.  We urge you all to contribute intelligently to the STAR blog as the best gift you can give to the future generation is to get your friends to read the blog regularly and to start asking questions and demanding answers from our so-called electorate.  We need to strive for freedom from the foreigners who are preying on our weak leader Michel, and we need to continue the fight for democracy. It will not happen overnight, but if we work together towards the same cause, we will win eventually and maybe one day we will see the Barry Laine Freedom Train in action from Victoria Station to the Anse Royale Danny-Barry Faure Station.

The Barry Laine Freedom Train

We wish everyone a happy 2012.  Rest assured that the STAR team will continue to work and fight for democracy.  We will win one day, as God is our only guide.

The STAR Management