Air Mauritius: The catalyst for an island economy’s growth

Running a modern airline is a task laden with red tape and regulations. When that airline serves a country with an economy built on tourism, the pressures mount up.

Created in 1967, the award-winning Air Mauritius has helped in connecting Mauritius to the rest of the world by regularly opening new routes and operates flights to and from Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

Air Mauritius, the national airliner of the African island nation of Mauritius, is the fourth largest in Africa. The airline carrier today transports around 1.5 million passengers and move 30,000 tons of cargo annually. The company employs around 3,000 people, operates out of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and serves 24 regional and international destinations.

“More than just an airline, Air Mauritius acts as an ambassador for Mauritius. We bring you the spirit of this country and its people on each of your fights with the special attention that our Mauritian crew provides, as well as a range of high-quality services. Air Mauritius has received several international awards recognizing the quality of its service on the ground and in flight. We are proud to have been voted the leading airline in the Indian Ocean at the World Travel Awards for the last seven years,” the corporate website declares.

The company is an IOSA-certified (IATA Operational Safety Audit) airline, operating a fleet of Airbus aircraft with state-of-the-art equipment.

“In addition, our company, approved by the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), can perform maintenance on aircraft of European operators,” the website adds.

In November of this year the company reaffirmed its commitment to operating to global standards when it announced:

“Air Mauritius operates in accordance with all Civil Aviation Regulations.

“Following recent press reports, Air Mauritius wishes to confirm that it complies with all the regulatory provisions of the Civil Aviation Authorities.

“The appointment of Mr. Indradev (Raja) Buton as Accountable Manager, fully satisfies the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority, which was duly informed of the appointment on 28 October 2016. The Civil Aviation Authority had no objection to the appointment.

“Mr Buton has acted as Officer in Charge and Accountable Manager of Air Mauritius on many occasions in the past in the absence of the Chief Executive Officer.”

That news came just a month after the company had hired IBM and KPMG to overhaul the national airliner’s enterprise planning processes and data analytics capability with a range of cloud and analytics technologies. Through the deal the airliner hopes to enable its long-term growth ambitions.

In a bid to support the airliner’s long term growth trajectory with modern technological development, Air Mauritius recently launched a technology transformation programme aimed at revamping its main architecture. As part of the changes, the airliner has hired IBM and KPMG to provide a range of consultancy services in the area of cloud and analytics.

The airliner stated that it expects to improve budgeting cycles, decrease turnaround time for processing data and boost its capacity to uncover predictive insights directly from data to enhance customer experience.

According to the implementation partners, the programme will allow the airline to overhaul its enterprise planning processes using the statistical analysis and powerful visualisations of IBM’s Watson Analytics, while leveraging the implementation expertise of KPMG.

The changes will allow Air Mauritius to benefit from enhanced operational efficiencies and improved service delivery for customer enquiries and flight bookings, through better analytical insights. The airliner will further be able to use an integrated environment for critical, real-time scenario planning and performance management.

Reflecting on IBM’s support, Jananda Moothoo, Country General Manager of IBM Mauritius, says, “We are witnessing increased competition across the aviation industry to improve organisational efficiency and enhance customer experience by adopting the latest technologies. IBM’s cloud and analytics technology will help Air Mauritius to improve efficiencies and accelerate growth and global relevance.”

Planning for the future is imperative, given the importance of tourism to the local economy, with the majority of visitors to Mauritius arriving via Air Mauritius aircraft.

“We are a strategic partner in the tourism industry and are investing to help achieve the industry’s growth objectives. With 36,000 tons of cargo carried annually, Air Mauritius also plays a key role in the economic development of Mauritius,” the corporate website states.

In November 2016 it was announced that the island is experiencing a huge spike in tourism numbers.

The island is heading towards an increase in arrivals of 11 per cent for 2016, off the back of a year of 10 per cent growth in 2015 according to Arnaud Martin, chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), who added that the country had not seen double-digit growth in arrivals since 1996.

“For several years, growth was flat, which was worrying, as hotels were always increasing in number, which caused a disequilibrium in supply and demand and the mood wasn’t particularly good, with hotels were heavily indebted,” said Martin.

“We have since been working off very clear objectives as to where we need the country to go in terms of tourism; we have been focusing on re-establishing equilibrium. We have also seen an increase in tourism receipts of 14 per cent, which is very reassuring. We have to ensure we are focused on sustained growth.”

He said increased above the line marketing focused on the attractiveness of the island had been a key contributor to the growth.

“Firstly, we had to acknowledge that it is the consumer who runs the show,” said Martin. “We had to make sure they knew exactly what Mauritius had to offer in terms of attractiveness and let them choose us based on that.”

Accessibility has also been vastly ramped up, Martin said

He said one of the key strategic moves to grow tourism had been the implementation of more Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA); Australia and Finland are among the more recent countries agreements have been signed with.

“Air Mauritius is also investing in its product, including two new Airbus A350 next autumn which will add to the quality of the experience,” he added.

“Air Mauritius has provided passenger ground handling, cargo handling, and ramp services for over 40 years. As a leading company in this field, we handle more than two million passengers every year,” the company states

With investment and planning protocol in place, Air Mauritius looks set to grace the skies for decades more.