Air Mauritius and The Tourism Sector

By Dev Poonyth

Following the communiqué from Air Mauritius, the Board of Directors has suddenly woken up following their incredibly poor performance since the ‘mini-Enron’ scandal, the hedging catastrophe and now the appalling nine months’ results to 31st December 2011.

My previous criticisms as well as those made by the other shareholder representatives resulted in some cosmetic changes at Air Mauritius; however the composition of its Board and structural problems remained unresolved. Time and again, I emphasized the need to wind up Air Mauritius Holdings Ltd, the vehicle by which the Government controls 51% of Air Mauritius Ltd and initiates the appointment and re-appointment of Directors.

It is imperative that Seabury, the American consultancy firm, which will manage Air Mauritius over the next six months, will deliver and bring about major structural changes for the benefit of all the stakeholders. Moreover, there is no doubt that Air Mauritius requires in the present circumstances a strategic partner; this will entail a review of the current mechanism of control within Mauritius Ltd – and eventually lead to the dissolution of Air Mauritius Holdings Ltd.

In so far as the tourism sector is concerned, the Ministry of Tourism and the other stakeholders within the private sector are doing the right thing in targeting emerging markets such as India and China but unfortunately they are not knocking at the right doors.

 I strongly believe a joint effort by both the public and private sectors are essential to include the following initiatives:

        (a)    Visitors/tourists from India and China staying for less than two weeks to

                have a visa free of charge at SSR Airport provided they meet the conditions/requirements (similar to Mauritians visiting Reunion Island or Europe).

         (b)    The landing rights and departure times of Air Mauritius to and from Mumbai,

                Delhi and Chennai at around 3.00 a.m. – 5.00 a.m. to be renegotiated by our Government on behalf of Air Mauritius with the Government of India and the relevant Indian authorities to ensure reasonable hours for departures.

                 This will be a win-win situation for both countries as this will ensure an increase in passenger footfall at both destinations by factoring in greater flexibility for both Mauritians and Indians.

* Published in print edition on 13 April 2012

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