UAE’s national airline Etihad Airways has sold its 40 percent stake in the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, Air Seychelles, handing over full ownership to the Seychelles government.
Etihad said in a statement that the company’s management contract has also expired, but Air Seychelles chief executive Remco Althuis and chief financial officer Michael Berlouis will stay on until June 30 to help with the carrier’s transition. A new board will come into force on June 30th, with Nane Nanty as the chairperson and Alan Mason as its co-chairman.
“Etihad Aviation Group has sold its 40 percent holding in Air Seychelles to the Government of Seychelles and will no longer be a shareholder,” an Etihad spokeswoman stated, without providing the value of the deal.
The move is in line with Etihad’s five-year restructuring plan, which includes reversing the carrier’s global equity alliance strategy and repositioning the company as a mid-sized boutique airline operating smaller widebody aircraft, with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner serving as the fleet’s “backbone.”
According to the reports, the deal to take full ownership of Seychelles’ flag carrier is an opportunity for the country, known for its turquoise beaches and diving spots, to focus on profitable routes as air travel recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic that decimated demand.
“This is a time of opportunity for both Air Seychelles and the country, as tourism starts to rebuild following the reopening of its borders. The airline remains committed to Air Seychelles as a commercial codeshare partner,” Etihad said.
As per the media reports, Seychelles’ Secretary of State in the Ministry of Finance Mr. Patrick Payet has stated that the country has received a “79 percent discount on the total debt of $72.3 million that Air Seychelles owes Etihad.” Repayment of the $11.34 million will start from 2022 onwards.
The Seychelles government also offered to pay $20 million of the $71.5 million still owed to bondholders. Seychelles is in discussions with the Trade Development Bank for a government loan to pay the bondholders and Etihad, Mr. Payet added.