Air Seychelles has taken delivery of the first Airbus A320neo to be operated by an African or Indian Ocean carrier.

The aircraft—leased from CDB Aviation, an Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co.—will be used mostly on routes to Johannesburg and Mumbai.

It is the first time since 2001 that Air Seychelles has taken delivery of a new aircraft. The last one was a Boeing 767-300ER, which is being operated by Air Canada rouge.

The national airline of the Republic of Seychelles will operate the A320neo in a two-class layout, with 12 business-class and 156 economy-class seats.

The island nation’s principal secretary for civil aviation, ports and marine Alan Renaud said the aircraft’s arrival “marks the start of a new chapter in the development of the national airline, as the increase in seat capacity available on the aircraft will enable Air Seychelles to continue delivering significant contribution towards both the growth of tourism and the Seychelles economy.”

Air Seychelles is reinventing itself as a regional carrier, having dropped its few long-haul routes in the face of intense competition, notably on the flagship Mahé-Paris route. The replacement of existing A320ceo aircraft with the neo variant is part of the airline's plan to improve its financial figures.

Alan Dron