Chinese company eyes stake in TMA

Chinese conglomerate Zongshen Industrial Group (ZIG) has announced plans to acquire a stake in the Maldives’ main seaplane operator, Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted ZIG chairman Zuo Zongshen as saying that with the firm’s plans to become the world’s largest operator of commercial amphibious aircraft, negotiations are currently underway to acquire a stake in TMA this year. The purchase, if approved, would see ZIG spend “billions of yuan”, he said.

TMA, which is also the largest seaplane operator in the world, operates an all-amphibian fleet of one DHC-6-100, one DHC-6-200, thirty-nine DHC-6-300s, and three DHC-6-400s on regular flights throughout the Maldivian archipelago.

The carrier is controlled by US venture capital firm, Blackstone, which, in 2013 acquired controlling stakes in two Maldives-based seaplane operators – Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways – before merging the two under the TMA brand.

ZIG is a diversified investment holding group with interests in industrial equipment manufacturing, real estate, automobile sales, financial, and mining. The company acquired a 49 percent stake in Canada’s Harbour Air Seaplanes in 2015, and is in talks to acquire a shareholding in US-based seaplane operator, Kenmore Air.

In addition to TMA, Maldives’ flagship carrier, Maldivian also operates a fleet of nine seaplanes.

Seaplane is the preferred mode of transport between the main Velana International Airport and dozens of resorts, especially those located in the outer atolls.

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