Delegates from the Indian Ocean Commission member countries of Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, La Reunion and Comoros gathered in Port-Louis, Mauritius from the 2nd to 3rd May 2013 for a two-day conference to discuss issues and challenges of air transport in the region.
The Seychelles delegation included: Captain David Savy-Chairman of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA);, Gilbert Faure, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA); Jenifer Sinon of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB); Guy Savy of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) and Jerry Morin from the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

The representatives of the major airlines operating in the region: Air Seychelles, Air Mauritius, Air France, Air Austral, Corsair, Air Madagascar and Emirates were also in attendance as was an important contingent of international organisations i.e. IATA, ICAO, UNWTO, European Union and World Bank.

The conference chaired by the Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission, Mr Jean-Claude de Lestrac was inaugurated by the Mauritian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Arvin Boolell.

Over the course of the two days the participants were treated to an array of presentations from leading industry experts, the likes of Vijay Poonoosamy, chairman of the Business Committee of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Vice President, Public and International Relations of Etihad Airways, Dr Rama Sithanen, Director of the International Financial Services Ltd and former Finance Minister of Mauritius and former strategist of Air Mauritius. Anver Versi, Director of African Business Magazine and international moderator, Hannah Messerli, senior expert of the World Bank, and Marcio Favilla L. de Paula, Executive Director of the Department Competitiveness, External Relations and Partners World Tourism Organization also made presentations.

The underlying message echoed throughout the two days was that it cannot be business as usual for the region as the current situation is not sustainable and there was a strong call for liberalisation of air access in the region. However this message was received with mixed views with Seychelles welcoming and at the ready to embrace it, while Air Mauritius and Air Austral remained more focused on achieving financial stability and Air Madagascar on getting off the black list. The region remains divergent in focus and herein lies the challenge: where does the region go from here?

The meeting concluded with the recommendation to hold a Ministerial Meeting of the ministers responsible for Civil Aviation and Tourism later this year for further discussion. This first conference thus served as the preliminary stage for the upcoming ministerial meeting and it will be now left to the decision-makers to take the necessary decision with regards to regional air access.