Manta Air welcomes third aircraft, announces local talent development programme

Manta Air on Sunday welcomed a third aircraft to its fleet and announced a programme to develop local pilots.

Arrival of the brand new ATR 72-600 comes just three weeks after Manta Air started its commercial flight operations.

Manta Air currently flies between the country’s main Velana International Airport in Male and Dhaalu Airport, the airline’s main hub located on the island of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu atoll. The route is served by daily four flights operating on a pre-published fixed schedule, giving travellers the flexibility to choose their preferred time of day to fly.

The addition of a third aircraft to its fleet comes as Manta Air prepares to begin flight operations to Dharavandhoo in Baa atoll.

Coinciding with the arrival of the third aircraft, Manta Air is also sponsoring five Maldivian seaplane pilots for ATR72-600 type-training, as part of the airline’s commitment to develop local talent in the aviation sector. The selected pilots will be trained at Asian Aviation Training Centre in Thailand, a centre renowned for pilot training for major airlines. The first pilot will begin the programme on April 1.

“We are thrilled and excited to welcome our third aircraft to the Maldives and we are pleased to announce the pilot sponsorship initiative. This is much needed for the aviation industry in Maldives where demand for pilots is high. I am proud that Manta Air has taken this initiative to develop local talent. I would like to congratulate and send my best wishes for the five selected employees who are about to embark on their next chapter of their career,” Edward Alsford, COO of Manta Air said, was quoted in a statement, as saying.

Manta Air’s fleet consists of three ATR 72-600 series aircraft, which benefit from the widest cabin in the turboprop market, new ergonomic design for greater comfort, new seats, and wider overhead bins with 30 per cent 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.

The airline has gone the extra mile to customise seats to provide the best comfort with additional legroom in a two-class seating configuration — a first for a domestic airline in the Maldives.

In addition to turboprop aircraft for domestic operations, Manta Air is also in the process of acquiring Twin Otter seaplanes in order to launch its seaplane service in the second quarter of 2019.

Manta Air was founded in 2016 as a joint venture between Deep Blue Private Limited, a local company with multiple investments in tourism, and tourism pioneer Umar Mohamed Maniku. The company was created to cater to the need for more air travel options and to support the rapid developments in the aviation industry in light of the development of new airports and the fast paced expansion of resorts and guesthouses across the country.

Maldives flagship carrier Maldivian and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Air are the only other 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 140 plus resorts and over 500 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.

Seats are now available for purchase through Manta Air’s authorised Passenger Sales Agents (PSAs) and direct booking from the Manta Air website: www.mantaair.mv. For more details, please visit the official website or call the airline’s reservations number 3314477 or 7994405 during business hours.

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