Maldivian, the national carrier of Republic of Maldives and owned & operated by Island Aviation Services (IAS), will start direct flights between Maafaru and Mumbai from April 13, 2021. Aishath Jennifer, Deputy Managing Director, Maldivian, shares details and what lies ahead for the carrier.
At present, Maldivian operates three flights from Malé to Trivandrum and two flights from Malé to Kochi. The Mumbai flight connecting to Maafaru will operate on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Aishath Jennifer says, “We look forward to welcome Indian tourists to the north and assure them that we will make the experience memorable. The Maafaru International Airport is located in the north of Maldives. The island and the airport are surrounded by beautiful blue sea and sandy beaches, unlike the airport located in the capital. Hence, we thought it would be a good experience for people who want to travel to the north of Maldives. They don’t need to come to the capital, which could be expensive if they want to travel back to the north. We are giving Indians an opportunity to come directly to the north and take a speed boat or air taxi to their place of stay, thus minimising their travel time along with ticket fare. This is the first time an international flight will come to Maafaru.” She adds that there are four atolls with about 10,000 tourist beds in the region.
Maafaru International Airport, located in Noonu Atoll, opened in 2019. It is also managed by Island Aviation Services.
Jennifer says that they have received good feedback from the resorts in the region and that tour operators are highly motivated to promote this flight. “We see huge potential in this area. We would love to see a lot of Indians use this opportunity to come and visit us. We believe that the Indian market will be equally excited to explore this new side of Maldives,” she adds optimistically. Jennifer also says that tour operators in India believe there will be huge demand for this flight. “We have been flying to India for the last 13 years. This would be our fourth Indian route. We hope to get a good load factor from this sector and I am sure it will be a great success as well,” she adds.
More routes in future
Maldivian is closely studying new routes and might add direct flights from other cities in India as well, perhaps in the next couple of months.
“We haven’t completed our studies, but hopefully, we will soon be able to announce new routes as well. Delhi is also in our plans. We are looking at new ways to connect India and Maldives. Now that we are connecting north of Maldives, in the future, we plan to connect India with the south of Maldives,” she says.
Bird Travels appointed as India GSA
Maldivian has appointed Bird Travels, the airline management service arm of Bird Group, as its General Sales Agent in Mumbai. The appointment is a move by the airline to build upon its presence in the international arena, support its expansion in India, strengthen the airline’s sales team and provide support to the Indian travel trade. “This relationship with Bird Group is a vital one for us and one we believe it will flourish,” says Jennifer. To this, Vijay Bhatia, President, Bird Group, adds, “We are confident that together, both organisations will have a long and successful partnership. Strengthening the airline’s commitment and growing confidence in the market, Bird Travels is happy to take up the responsibility for the airline’s sales, marketing and ticketing activities in Mumbai.”
Maldivian will operate the A320 and A-321 aircraft on the route. The A-321 has a capacity of 200 seats and includes Business Class as well. Maldivian will be serving hot meals on board. Tourists are required to report only two hours prior to departure of flight from Maafaru International Airport.