Alitalia to launch direct flights to Maldives

Italy’s flagship carrier Alitalia has announced plans to start its first ever scheduled direct flights between Italy and the Maldives.

In a statement, Alitalia said direct flights to the Maldives’ main Velana International Airport from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport would begin on October 31. The new three-weekly Rome-Male service will operate for the whole winter season until March 24, 2018, it added.

Alitalia’s Chief Executive Officer Cramer Ball said starting flight operations to the Maldives was in line with the airline’s plan to enhance its intercontinental offer from Italy, identifying destinations with the greatest potential.

“The Maldives have been a popular tourist destination for years, especially in winter, and Italy is the fourth country in the world for number of tourist arrivals to the marvellous archipelago of the Indian Ocean,” Ball was quoted as saying in the statement.

According to data from the Maldives government, over 71,200 Italian tourists travelled to the Maldives in 2016. This represents an 8.5 percent growth compared to the previous year and this positive trend is continuing during the first two months of this year.

Italy also ranks fourth amongst the originating countries for tourism to Maldives after China, Germany and United Kingdom, and ahead of much more populated countries such as India, Russia and the United States. The average stay for Italians, who were the first to spot the potential of tourism in the pristine atolls over four decades ago, in the Maldives is between four and 11 nights.

The Rome-Male flight will depart from Rome every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 9.45pm (local time) and will land in Male at 11.05am (local time) on the following day. The return flight from the Maldives will depart every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 1.10pm (local time) and will land in Rome at 7.30pm (local time).

The route will be operated with a 250-seat Airbus 330 aircraft, configured in three classes of service: business, premium economy and economy.

Tickets for the new Rome-Male service can be bought online at alitalia.com, by calling the Alitalia customer centre on 892010 (from Italy) or +390665649 (from overseas), at travel agencies and at airport ticket offices. Members of Alitalia’s MilleMiglia loyalty programme can earn and redeem miles on the new service, and if they purchase a ticket to Male before May 15 for travels before December 15, they will receive an extra bonus of up to 5,000 miles.

Alitalia is the latest European airline to begin direct flight operations to the Maldives.

Air France announced late last year that it would begin operating direct flights to the Maldives in November 2017. The airline said it would be offering two weekly flights to the Maldives main Velana International Airport on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Alitalia and Air France are amongst the few European airlines operating direct flights between Europe and Maldives. Majority of travellers from Europe are now required to take transit routes on airlines such as Emirates and SriLankan Airlines.

Europe is the single biggest source market for the Maldives tourism industry with a share of over 50 percent of the total arrivals. According to official figures, the European marked observed an year on year increase of 13.5 percent in the first two months of this year.

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