By Sponsored Stories01 Dec 2014The national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, Air Seychelles, has expanded its fleet, with its first Airbus A320 touching down at Seychelles International Airport late last week. The aircraft, named “Amirantes” in honour of a group of coral islands discovered in the Seychelles archipelago in the 16th century, was welcomed by a traditional water cannon salute after landing at 9:30 am. Its much awaited arrival was observed by President James Michel, Vice President Danny Faure, Minister of Home Affairs and Transport, Joël Morgan, Air Seychelles’ Chief Executive Officer, Manoj Papa, other high-level government dignitaries, and officials from the tourism and aviation sectors. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the welcoming delegation was invited onboard for a tour of the aircraft before moving to the airline’s VIP lounge for a reception. “Our new Airbus A320 will be used to launch three new routes, including Mumbai, Dar es Salaam and Antananarivo, representing the fastest rate of expansion our airline has ever seen. We have been able to accomplish this incredible feat thanks also to the support of our equity partner, Etihad Airways. In addition to these new services… from December, we will increase our weekly services to Abu Dhabi from 7 to 9 flights, move our Mauritius services to a morning departure, and enhance our services to Johannesburg with a convenient Saturday departure.” Manoj Papa, Air Seychelles chief executive officer As part of the Airbus family, the single-aisle A320 shares the same cockpit design and several operational commonalities as its wide-bodied variant, the A330-200, allowing Air Seychelles to realize significant cost savings by utilizing the same award-winning cabin crew, pilots and engineers across both aircraft types. The aircraft has a two-cabin configuration comprising 16 seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Minister Morgan, who is also Chairman of Air Seychelles, said: “Watching the A320 descend on Mahé with our bold livery on its tail fin was a proud moment for all of us. It is the third Airbus to join our fleet in as many years, and I am thrilled by the opportunities it brings for our national carrier, as well as for the wider economy and the people of Seychelles. Honouring the religious customs of the country, “Amirantes” was blessed during an interfaith service lead by Roman Catholic Bishop Priest Louis Agathine and Anglican Priest Danny Elisabeth. The blessing was followed by tours of the aircraft for the general public as well as tourism and trade partners. Other stories you may like REJOICE IN ROME: Celebrate 15 years of Etihad Airways and WIN! FLIGHT WINNERS: Etihad announces first 5 lucky winners of B’day comp! CHECK OUT CASABLANCA: Celebrate 15 years of Etihad Airways and WIN!