Chinese low-cost carrier Lucky Air to begin Maldives flights

Chinese low-cost carrier Lucky Air is set to begin flight operations to the Maldives in January.

Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) Managing Director Adil Moosa told state run Public Service Media (PSM) that Lucky Air would operate direct flights between its home base of Kunming and Maldives capital Male.

Additional details were, however, not given.

Lucky Air, part of the Hainan Airlines Group, operated its maiden flight in 2006. The airline now has 38 aircrafts and serves 88 routes, including 77 domestic route and 11 regional and international routes, connecting 60 cities in China and 10 abroad.

Although its international destinations are currently limited to Southeast Asia, the airline has announced plans to expand its operations to Europe and North America.

Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian operates scheduled flights to Chinese cities, including Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing, Wuhan and Xian, and is in the process of starting direct flights to Beijing. Privately-owned Mega Maldives also served as the primary airline between the Maldives and several major cities in China, including Beijing, before suspending its operations in May.

Several Chinese airlines, including China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Capital Airlines and Air China, operate charter services to the Maldives.

Maldives ranks amongst the most favoured holiday destinations for Chinese travellers, but the Chinese market has posted major declines over the past year. Arrivals from China, which still remains the single biggest source market, has dropped 10.3 percent in the first half of this year to reach 141,495 from 157,764 in the same period of last year.

The government has recently announced new steps to maintain a structured growth in tourism, including a slowdown in leasing islands for resort development and increased marketing efforts in key markets such as China and the Middle East in order to reach an ambitious target of a record 1.5 million tourist arrivals this year.

Photo: Jay Lee / Planespotters.com

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