As Maldives eyes more European tourists, national airline seeks fleet expansion

Maldivian has invited proposals to acquire two new aircrafts, as the Maldives flagship carrier seeks to expand operations to neighbouring countries and to traditional source markets for the island nation’s multi-million dollar tourism industry.

The Request For Proposals (RFPs) issued at the end of last month are for the purchase of a DHC-8-300 aircraft and for the leasing of an Airbus A321.

The DHC-8-300 aircraft will be a 315 or 314 series capable of seating 50 passengers in a single class configuration. It should be no older than 15 years of age although older aircraft are still eligible though they are subject to an in-situ review. The aircraft should also be offered for purchase on or before June 1.

The Airbus A321 should have 194 Economy class seats and six Business class seats. It should be less than 10 years old.

Maldivian currently operates a fleet of two Dash8-200 series aircrafts, seven Dash8-300 series aircrafts, and an Airbus 320 and another Airbus 321 aircraft. The Dash aircrafts are primarily used for domestic operations while the two Airbus aircrafts service the airline’s international routes.

Maldivian operates flights to all the 10 domestic airports across the Maldives, and runs international operations to South Asian neighbours India and Bangladesh, and far Eastern countries such as Thailand and China. The airline is also in the process of starting flights to neighbouring Sri Lanka.

The latest fleet expansion by the Maldives’ flagship carrier is in line with its plans to boost operations to major tourist markets such as Europe. Maldivian announced at the recently concluded ITB Berlin fair that it had initiated negotiations with three European companies to expand flight operations to Europe.

Europe is the single biggest source market for the Maldives tourism industry with a share of over 50 percent of the total arrivals. According to official figures, the European marked observed an year on year increase of 13.5 percent in the first two months of this year.

Maldivian has also recently expanded into seaplane operations. The airline has an all amphibian fleet of nine DHC-6 Twin Otter aircrafts for its seaplane operations.

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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