Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) is in talks to build a new airport in the Seychelles as the UAE strengthens its commercial ties with the country.
Etihad Airways originally announced plans to invest in Air Seychelles in January 2012 and has since increased codeshare ties with the carrier.
“We are also negotiating with Adac to construct a new airport in Victoria near the existing airport,” said James Michel, the president of the Seychelles.
“We are about to reach agreement on this important economic and tourism project.”
In 2012, Etihad took a 40 per cent stake in Air Seychelles in a deal worth US$45 million. The airline has since turned a profit for two consecutive years.
Air Seychelles reported a $3.2m profit last year, an increase of a 6.6 per cent year-on-year.
Before Etihad’s stake acquisition, Air Seychelles had suffered back-to-back losses and several management changes.
Etihad and Air Seychelles operate 14 flights per week from Abu Dhabi to the Seychelles. Emirates operates an additional 14 flights from Dubai.
A spokeswoman confirmed that Abu Dhabi Airports was in negotiations with the Republic of Seychelles for the construction of a new airport. “The company is not in a position to disclose further details at this stage, but we believe that such a venture will further strengthen the ties between the government of Abu Dhabi and the Republic of Seychelles,” she said.
In 2013, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and Masdar built a renewable energy project in the archipelago called the Port of Victoria Wind Farm, which consists of eight wind turbines. The UAE also funded the Seychelles’ coastguard base as a gift to the country.
Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council has also been involved in a project to develop an economic strategy for the islands..
Abu Dhabi has provided almost Dh200m in financial aid over the past 10 years to help the Seychelles tackle economic problems.
Its economy suffered after the financial crisis eight years ago, especially following the decision to let its currency trade freely in 2008. In November of that year the Seychellois rupee fell to 17.5 per US dollar compared to 4.5 rupees per dollar in the mid-1990s.
The Seychelles economy began to recover in 2010 and expanded by about 3.7 per cent last year. It is expected to grow 3.8 per cent this year, according to the IMF.
Seychelles Tourism Board expects the number of UAE tourist arrivals to grow by 10 per cent this year. Last year, about 13,000 tourists from the UAE visited the island, Sherin Naiken, the chief executive of the Seychelles tourism board, said in April.
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