Manta Air secures two ATR 72-600s aircraft, to begin operations in November

Manta Air has secured its first two ATR 72-600 aeroplanes, as the brand new domestic airline prepares to begin commercial flight operations next month.

The first of the two aircraft, secured through Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC), will be introduced in November, with the second planned to join Manta Air’s fleet before the end of the year.

“Manta Air is an exciting new domestic airline based in the Republic of Maldives. Our mission is to make flying an enjoyable and effortless experience by ensuring the highest safety standards are established and maintained,” Edward Alsford, Chief Operation Officer at Manta Air, said.

“We are introducing two brand new ATR72-600 aircraft into the Maldives. This demonstrates Manta Air’s dedication to high standards, and our commitment offers the best levels of service for our passengers. These aircraft benefit from having the most modern and comfortable turboprop cabin. Manta Air has taken the unusual step of removing a row of seats to provide our passengers with additional legroom in both economy and business class.”

Manta Air will initially operate the aircraft from the Maldives main Velana International Airport to three domestic airports: Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu atoll, Dharavandhoo in Baa atoll and Thimarafushi in Thaa atoll.

“We are pleased to see our first ATR 72-600 aircraft being introduced in the Maldives and contributing to the further development of the air connectivity in this region. The ATR 72-600s perfectly match the requirements for short-haul travel in terms of low operating costs, comfort and ability to take-off and land at small airfields,” Martin Møller, Chairman of NAC, said.

With unmatched take-off and landing performance, the ATR 72-600 benefits from the widest cabin in the turboprop market, new ergonomic design for greater comfort, new seats, and wider overhead bins with 30 percent more roller bags stowage. They are also the lowest seat per mile cost aircraft on the 70 seat segment, thanks to significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to its competitors.

“It is a special occasion to be part of the launch of a new airline such as Manta Air,” Stefano Bortoli, CEO of ATR, said.

“The choice of the ATR 72-600 demonstrates once again the value of ATR for connecting island communities whilst allowing airlines to take advantages of its unbeatable economics and comfort.”

In addition to turboprop aircraft for domestic operations, Manta Air is also in the process of acquiring Twin Otter seaplanes.

Manta Air is an initiative by Reollo Investments, which runs the recently opened Kandima Maldives resort and Dhaalu Airport. Reollo is led by Sanjay Ibrahim Maniku, son of local conglomerate Universal Enterprise’s shareholder Dr Ibrahim Maniku.

Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Air are the only two airlines currently active in the Maldives. Seaplane services are provided by Maldivian as well as privately run Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), which has the largest seaplane fleet in the world.

Launching of a new domestic airline comes amidst increased efforts by the government to expand the air transport network in the Maldives.

Over a million tourists from across the globe visit the Indian Ocean island nation every year to holiday in one of the 130 plus resorts and over 400 guesthouses located in all corners of the country. The multi-billion dollar tourism industry, which is the country’s main economic activity, relies heavily on the domestic transport infrastructure, especially air travel.

Maldives, the most dispersed country on the planet with 1,192 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, already has 11 airports, including three international airports. The government has contracted both local and international companies to develop additional domestic airports across the archipelago in a bid to boost tourism.

Meanwhile, a USD 800 million mega project has been launched to expand and upgrade the main Velana International Airport. The project involves building a brand new runway, an international passenger terminal and a seaplane terminal as well as other support facilities, including a fuel farm that can store 45 million litres and a 120,000 tonne cargo facility.

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