Maldives in talks with Gulf Air to begin flight operations
Maldives has announced talks with Bahrain’s Gulf Air to begin its operations to the Indian Ocean holiday destination.
Discussions with Bahrain’s flagship carrier were announced in an interview with state run Public Service Media (PSM) by Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) Managing Director Adil Moosa. He, however, did not give additional details.
Since its establishment in 1950, Gulf Air has become a major international carrier, serving 42 cities in 25 countries spanning three continents. The airline operates double daily flights or more to 10 regional cities, in addition to select destinations in the Indian subcontinent and Europe, from its hub at Bahrain International Airport.
Gulf Air operates a modern fleet of 28 aircrafts, with orders for 39 new Boeing and Airbus aircrafts due for delivery commencing in early next year.
Middle East has become an emerging source market for the Maldives. The market has, however, observed major declines in the first half of the year, with the latest being a nine percent drop in visitor numbers in July. Almost all major Middle Eastern markets posted declines in July, including Saudi Arabia (down 1.6 percent), Qatar (down 93.7 percent) and Egypt (down 23.9 percent).
Major airlines in the Middle East, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Saudia and Flydubai, already operate flights to the Maldives. However, flight operations by another Middle Eastern carrier are expected to boost arrivals from the Gulf region.
Talks with Gulf Air come as several international airlines gear up for the commencement of operations to the Maldives.
Italy’s flagship carrier Alitalia will start its first ever scheduled direct flights between Italy and the Maldives in October. During the same month, Indian low-cost carrier GoAir will also begin direct flights to the Maldives.
Air France announced late last year that it would begin operating direct flights to the Maldives in November. The airline said it would be offering two weekly flights to the Maldives main Velana International Airport on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
Meanwhile, Chinese low-cost carrier Lucky Air is set to begin flight operations to the Maldives in January 2018.